The boy’s club

By Sally Helgesen via   Article

At Most Tech Firms, the C-Suite Is Still a Boy’s Club

“The question is why so many well-intentioned programs aren’t achieving strong results. The culture at many workplaces is clearly one factor—and likely the largest. Supportive mentoring programs and women’s networks can only do so much if the larger culture remains one that women find alienating and unrewarding. Examples include:

• Testosterone-fueled cultures in which long hours are considered the primary sign of commitment

• Companies that claim to value teamwork but base financial rewards on individual results

• Up-or-out workplace cultures or those with rigid policies linking ages to career stages, which may be out of sync with women’s most productive working years

• Beliefs about leadership styles that undervalue traits shown by research to be more commonly found in women, such as inclusive decision-making, fostering consensus, and people development

• Higher compensation for those who land new clients than for those who serve existing customers and clients

These are pervasive issues that no diversity effort to support female employees can overcome, regardless of how well they’re funded.

When it comes to culture, the ‘shadow of a leader’ is a powerful force, which means that even laudatory efforts can be undermined by men who don’t believe that their company is serious or who imagine that their off-the-cuff ramblings and generalizations won’t have a lasting impact on female morale. I remember one woman at a major consulting firm describing its new women’s initiative: ‘As usual, it’s all about ‘fixing’ the women. The fact that a few—and I emphasize a few—of the men are having an outsized effect on women feeling undervalued isn’t seen as part of the problem.'”


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