I am often asked to give advice to women on ways that they can be successful in business. Of course, I am only too happy to share my experiences to help women achieve gender parity in the workplace. I’m passionate about this as a woman in a high-profile position with an innovative workforce solutions company. Unfortunately, the fact that women’s lack of representation in power positions continues to be newsworthy means that much remains to be done if we are to achieve workplace equality.
I have been fortunate to work with companies that are committed to diversity and the advancement of women, and who know that it is in their own interests, as well as their clients’, to ensure diversity among leadership so that there is maximum scope for variety. The velocity of change in the world of work now is such that only companies who are fully open to the ideas of all will be able to win.
ManpowerGroup recently released the results of our 2011 Talent Shortage Survey, which showed that one third of employers cannot fill key positions, yet women remain an underleveraged talent pool. This situation is not sustainable now that the world has entered the Human Age, where access to talent is rapidly gaining recognition as the key competitive differentiator. Forces at work, including shifting demographics, have brought us to this point. Working populations are shrinking in many markets. In other markets there is an over-supply of available workers but an under-supply of qualified talent.
In many cases, the dreaded glass ceiling and barriers to women’s advancement are not deliberate. However, outdated work models and people practices mean that women are forced to choose either professional success or personal fulfillment. To counter this, businesses must embrace greater flexibility to empower high-performing women. They must be given the opportunity to develop professionally while balancing work and home duties so that more emphasis is placed on results and knowledge gained rather than time spent in the office.
One shouldn’t need to be a superwoman to excel in a high-profile position and take care of one’s family at the same time. Early in my career, a well-meaning boss felt I needed to be protected because he believed I would be unable to juggle my professional and my personal life. My response to that? “You take care of my career, and I’ll take care of my personal life.”