When I was a little girl, I knew men made more money than women and almost always held higher positions too. It was a fact of life. In my neighborhood, fathers were the main breadwinners while mothers either stayed home or filled the financial gaps with part-time or temporary jobs. Full-time female workers were few and far between. Even rarer was the woman who managed to land a management position. I can count on one hand the females I knew with any legitimate professional power and influence. I can’t even imagine how small those numbers were for minority women at that time.
As I grew, I noticed a distinct change in the societal norm. If you’re older than thirty-five, you probably experienced the same dramatic shift. Moms either needed to or wanted to work. And with that, ladies began to find role models. Whether it was Geraldine Ferraro, the first female vice presidential candidate representing a major American political party or famous business icons like Oprah Winfrey and Martha Stewart, girls finally had multiple women to emulate. In turn, we began to proclaim, “if she can do it, I can do it.” Anything was possible.
It may seem obvious to you then that boosting employee morale is as easy as placing more women and minorities into influential positions. Well, you’re not alone. 2020 Women on Boards is a national campaign to increase the percentage of females on U.S. boards to 20% or more by the year 2020. Malli Gero, co-founder and president says, “research shows that gender diversity is good business and results in higher sales, greater corporate morale, and better return on investment for stakeholders.” Those are three seemingly compelling reasons for companies to hurry up and get with the program.
Is the Glass Half Full or Half Empty?
Sadly, diversity in the boardroom and upper management remains at what you might call a deplorable level. Globally, women hold between fifteen and eighteen percent of the available director positions, depending on which study or survey you read. This is partly because turnover on boards is low. The good news is that the numbers have been growing steadily, if not quickly, over the last decade.
Recent pressures from activists and investors have prompted boards to increase their number of minorities and females. The alternative is to face backlash and criticism from the media and other powerful groups if these changes are not made. Perhaps you’ve heard of organizations like the Forte Foundation, the Thirty Percent Coalition, and the Professional Diversity Network that are not only shining a much-needed light on this topic but providing resources to underrepresented professionals in an attempt to speed up the process of parity.
A Reason to Smile
Minorities and women are taking notice of the recent changes in corporate demographics. Research shows that role models have a positive effect on stigmatized and under-represented populations. Having someone to look up to in a company setting increases motivations, the number of goals set, and interest in advancement by those in lower positions. You might not be surprised by any of this, but it’s nice to have evidence for the obvious, right?
Additionally, businesses with relatively high percentages of female managers and board members tend to take on issues important to stigmatized groups. Corporate programs that spotlight and address equal pay, flexible work schedules, mentorship, and charitable contributions are increasingly popular. As a result, the future is looking a little brighter for us and will probably continue to do so.
Career expectations for women have certainly changed and grown over the past thirty years. Gone are the days when we put absolute limits on our professional potential. Big business is likely to continue boosting employee morale with improved representation of marginalized groups in positions of power. Do you think we are headed in the right direction? What other actions should corporate America take to ensure equality? Let me know by leaving a comment below.
Sometimes it requires great effort to stay motivated in your career. Experiencing frustration or discouragement is a common occurrence in the lives of most professional women. The path to success is fraught with obstacles like unconscious bias, sexism, racism, and ageism. It’s no wonder we feel deflated or defeated from time to time. It’s at those moments that we need to hear powerful quotes from pioneering businesswomen like:
1. Barbara Walters – Journalist, author, and the first female co-anchor of a network evening news show, ABC Evening News
“I was the kind nobody thought could make it. I had a funny Boston accent. I couldn’t pronounce my R’s. I wasn’t a beauty.”
2. Madame Curie – Physicist, chemist, and first woman to win a Nobel Prize
“I have frequently been questioned, especially by women, of how I could reconcile family life with a scientific career. Well, it has not been easy.”
3. Joan Rivers – Comedienne and first woman to host a late-night television network talk show, The Late Show with Joan Rivers
“I succeeded by saying what everyone else was thinking.”
4. Annie Oakley – Sharpshooter and renowned international star
“Keep on aiming and keep on shooting for only practice will make you perfect. Finally, you’ll hit the bull’s-eye of success.”
5. Ursula Burns – First black-American woman CEO of a Fortune 500 company, Xerox
“I’m an advocate for change and eager to break a little glass when needed.”
6. Agatha Christie – Author and Guinness World Records holder as best-selling novelist of all time
“As life goes on, it becomes tiring to keep up the character you invented for yourself, and so you relapse into individuality and become more like yourself every day.”
7. Jennifer Lopez – Actress, singer, and first woman to have the number one film and album in the same week
“Things don’t always turn out exactly the way you want them to be and you feel disappointed. You are not always going to be the winner. That’s when you have to stop and figure out why things happened the way they did and what you can do to change them.”
8. Lucille Ball – Comedic actress and first woman to run a major television studio, Desilu Productions
“I’m not funny. What I am is brave.”
9. Indra Nooyi – CEO of PepsiCo and consistently ranked as one of the most powerful women in the world
“At the end of the day, don’t forget you’re a person, don’t forget you’re a mother, don’t forget you’re a wife, don’t forget you’re a daughter.”
10. Julia Child – Award-winning chef, author, and television personality
“I think you have to decide who your audience is. If you don’t pick your audience, you’re lost because you’re not really talking to anybody.”
11. Vera Wang – Fashion designer and business mogul
“Don’t be afraid to take time to learn. It’s good to work for other people. I worked for others for twenty years. They paid me to learn.”
12. Nellie Bly – Trailblazing investigative journalist
“Accept praise for its worth – politeness. Be brutally frank with yourself. It’s safer.”
13. Aretha Franklin – singer, songwriter, first woman inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
“We all require and want respect, man or woman, black or white.”
14. Mary Kay Ash – Founder of Mary Kay Cosmetics and award-winning businesswoman
“Every achievement, big or small, begins in your mind.”
15. Sara Blakely – Founder of Spanx and billionaire businesswoman
“I think my story says that, when women are given the chance and the opportunity, that we can achieve a lot. We deliver.”
16. Amelia Earhart – Aviation pioneer, author, and first female to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean
“The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity.”
17. Estee Lauder – Co-founder of Estee Lauder Companies and the only woman on Time magazine’s 1998 list of the 20 most influential business geniuses of the 20th century
“When I thought I couldn’t go on, I forced myself to keep going. My success is based on persistence, not luck.”
So, did you think those were powerful quotes? Do you feel empowered? If not, tell me what words of wisdom or iconic women inspire you and keep you moving forward in your career.
Life is better when we lift each other up.
Cindy Gallop is an outspoken champion of women in the workforce. When she speaks, people in the corporate world sit up, take notice, and often cringe. She doesn’t care. As the chair of the U.S. branch of Bartle Bogle Hegarty, a global advertising agency, she was known to make waves in the male-dominated industry.
She has since utilized her considerable influence and experience to found the startups IfWeRanTheWorld and MakeLoveNotPorn. She also wrote a book on the latter, Make Love Not Porn: Technology’s Hardcore Impact On Human Behavior. Her 2009 TED talk on the topic has received almost two million views on YouTube. Here are 11 breathtaking Cindy Gallop quotes about equality that helped catapult her to celebrity status and become the business crush of thousands.
“I deplore the shying away that can go on, within women, from the term ‘feminist.’ I am, absolutely, all about being a feminist.”
“I like to describe myself as a proudly visible member of the most invisible segment of our society – older women.”
“Women who play it the way the men do, play by the men’s rules, are seen as domineering, aggressive bitches.”
“I am all for the Lean In movement. But the Lean In movement is all about how women can win while working within the existing corporate structure and the existing system and the existing world of business. I don’t want you to do that. I want you to redesign it.”
“You’ll never own the future if you care what other people think.”
“I realized I was an attractive older woman who never wanted to settle down.”
“If I ran the world, I would find a way to bring the wealth of human good intentions and corporate good intentions together – to activate them collectively into shared action against shared objectives that produces shared hard, tangible results.”
“My personal cause and platform, if you like, is women’s rights and women’s issues.”
“Women challenge the status quo because we are never it.”
“Do you have a different point of view from the men? Say so! Do you see an all male environment in your agency? Call it out and do something about it!”
“I idolize every woman who has ever fought to make equality happen for all of us.”
So, what do you think of these provocative Cindy Gallop quotes? Does she go over the top or is she right on the money? I wrote an extensive post on the struggles of career women, including a bit of advice from her. Check it out here. Whether you like her or not, Cindy is here to stay. Is she your business crush or do you have someone else in mind? Leave a comment below and let’s keep this conversation going.
Photo: Eva Blue
Nearly everyone understands by the time they’re adolescents that appearances matter. You see beauty and sexuality emphasized consistently in ads, movies, television shows, and social media. Dating services portray people on their sites as attractive and eager to meet you. Anti-aging products are hocked to women by twenty-something-year-old models with no spots or wrinkles. Viagra ads suggest to men if they take the pill they’ll be able to bed a gorgeous woman, just like the one in the commercial. We’re barraged with messages that reinforce the notion looks trump substance.
The pressure to be attractive extends to your professional life as well. But, landing a job you’re qualified for or getting the promotion you’ve earned shouldn’t depend on the size of your waistline or the prominence of your nose. After all, you don’t comb your hair with a fork or require a formal introduction to dental floss! However, growing evidence supports the theory that looks play a significant role in your career development and income. Therefore, it’s imperative to learn why a physical attractiveness stereotype crushes opportunities for most people.
Who’s The Fairest Of Them All?
Let’s say you’re in the market for a new job. You get your resume reviewed and edited by a professional and eagerly apply for several positions. This, along with a snazzy cover letter ought to secure you a few interviews. Beauty isn’t a consideration at this point, right? Alas, most companies have been using ‘social screening’ for years to evaluate applicants. It’s a process where hiring managers use your social media accounts to determine if you’re a viable candidate. And unless you have picture-free profiles, your appearance is part of the package. According to a recent poll conducted on behalf of CareerBuilder, sixty percent of employers surveyed used social networking platforms for hiring purposes. Maybe this is old news to you. No biggie.
Well, there is an abundance of research that emphasize the advantages of being good looking. In a field experiment conducted by the University of Buenos Aires, researchers found that resumes submitted with photos of attractive applicants were 36 percent more likely to be given a callback. If that’s not discouraging enough, studies by economist Daniel S. Hamermesh found that beautiful people are often offered higher salaries. In fact, Hamermesh wrote a fascinating, yet disturbing book on the topic, Beauty Pays. In it, he explains how companies can justify and afford to pay a premium for attractive employees.
Eyes Without A Face
Obviously, hiring based on a person’s looks is wrong. The practice squanders human resources and reinforces stereotypes. We can only wonder how often brilliant applicants are passed over for eye-catching mediocrity. You also have to wonder how it affects office morale. How can we reduce this type of discrimination?
Both businesses and governments have shown increasing interest in implementing blind or anonymous processes to review applicants. This means more companies are attempting to reduce cues for conscious or unconscious bias in hopes of hiring more women and minorities. It stands to reason this approach will also benefit older and less attractive prospects as well. Current trends and strategies used include:
Omitting name, gender, and photos from resumes
Offering online questionnaires
Conducting telephone interviews
Positioning a candidate behind a screen during an interview
Eliminating social screening from the hiring process
Perhaps these tactics bring more diversity to the workforce and result in better positions and more money to those who have previously been discriminated against based on their looks. However, instituting these procedures is purely voluntary on behalf of companies. There are currently no laws mandating blind or anonymous hiring practices in the United States. Also, businesses may be reluctant to change existing systems based on the added expense. As a result, progress in the area is bound to be slow.
It’s easy to see why a physical attractiveness stereotype crushes opportunities for job seekers. Pretty people continue to have the upper hand for now. Perhaps in time, the statistics will change. In the meantime, we’ll have to continue keeping up appearances to receive the highest pay possible. Just like Mom always said, “Life isn’t fair.”
What are your thoughts? Should companies be legally obligated to use blind interviewing to reduce stereotyping and increase fairness in hiring practices? Share your experiences.