6% of CEOs in the S&P 100 are female. 50.8% of the population is female.
I’m not super at math, but that seems like a disconnect, right?
Today is International Women’s Day and a young lady (Tatiana Hollander-Ho) reached out to me this week. She’s an entry level marketing pro for The Ladders, 2018 grad from NYU and she said, “Hey, you have a passion around women in the workplace and I want to get this #ReferHer going and make a difference. Can you help?” (FYI – go connect with her – she’s going to be a great one in our industry!)
I can do what I do, which is write about and socialize it and support it! #ReferHer is an awesome idea. We need to refer more women to leadership positions, period.
I’m not one of these dudes who just goes out and flies the female flag because it’s the politically correct thing to do. I’m also not one that buys into the bullshit studies that say “Female CEOs return better financial returns!” – those are bad studies with flawed data – you can’t run a regression on companies run by women and the financial performance and call that good data.
There might be a correlation, but there is absolutely no causation. If you believe in those studies, you also believe in the study that says if your name is Mike and you’re over six foot and you are the CEO of a Fortune 500 company, you will have higher financial returns than anyone else, not named Mike. Those two studies say the exact same thing.
That’s the problem, right!? You see it, right!? You can’t just throw out garbage and expect smart people not to get it and just blindly support females. The opposite actually happens. Smart people see that and go, that’s not what that says, so now I don’t buy any of it. Smart people – both women and men.
I’ve worked for great women. Strong women who are great leaders. These women, in my opinion, had many traits that most of the male leaders I’ve worked for didn’t have. In most cases, these traits made them leaders employees wanted to follow, not forced to follow.
We have this awful bias that says white dudes over six feet make better leaders. It’s literally been drilled into us for 100 years. Look at the Presidents all the way up to Obama and after. White dudes over six foot have nothing buy stature. We are betting that the trait of stature is the most important thing for running a high functioning organization. It’s insanity, right?
The reality is we can solve this. We can. Not overnight, but little by little.
It starts with flooding your leadership ranks with women. That means we have to give opportunities to women to move into leadership in ways we haven’t before. We have to develop Women Leadership Councils in our organizations who can tap on the shoulders of female employees and invite them in and mentor them into leadership roles. We have to purposeful about doing this. It won’t happen organically, we’ve been waiting for a hundred years for it to happen organically.
So, how do you start?
It’s super simple!
Step 1 – Tell your c-suite you are starting a Women’s Leadership Council in your organization and you need their support. 100% will give their support because if they don’t the backlash would be tremendous.
Step 2– Be inclusive, not exclusive. If a woman in your organization shows any sign of potential leadership you pull them into your council.
Step 3– Focus on hard leadership skills, not soft skills. Give them the inside information around how the company makes money or doesn’t make money. Show them how to budget and write a budget. Teach them how to performance manage. Show them how to balance themselves for great success. Show them how to support each other in this drive upward.
Step 4 – Make your C-suite come, present, participate, and watch. They need to see your smart females in action.
Step 5 – Draft your high potential leader internal mobility charts and scoreboard it publicly within the c-suite. Tell them the minimum goal is 50/50. Show it to them monthly.
Step 6 – Make female leadership goals/hires part of your c-suite annual bonus. At least 30%.
It can be done. This isn’t hard. But it has to be purposeful.
Check out LinkedIn’s Gender Insights Report as well it’s loaded with great information on helping solve this problem!