Company promotion lenses may vary by gender and need to be equalized

Did you know that professional women are more likely to be assessed on their past performance where professional men are more frequently assessed by their future potential?  It took me some time to digest these findings, which I stumbled upon while researching data points for my latest book, “Accelerate Your Impact.”

Vivan Giang’s article in a Fast Company post on March 11, 2015, titled “The Surprising Ways That Networking Fails Women” highlights Researchers Lily Fang and Sterling Huang, Ph.D.  Fang said, “We’re looking at the differential impact of connections in women and men’s jobs, performance and their career trajectory.” Through her readings and research, Fang tells Fast Company, “Men tend to be evaluated on potential and women on actual performance.”

Assessment varies
There is no question that there are varying degrees of evaluation and assessment by gender that occurs during the evaluation and promotion process, especially at senior levels.

Judith Warner, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, writes an article titled The Women’s Leadership Gap on Aug. 4, 2015, which includes insightful statistics: “While they [women] are 45 percent of the overall S&P 500 labor force and 37 percent of first or mid-level officials and managers in those companies, they are only 25 percent of executive and senior-level officials and managers, hold only 19 percent of board seats and are only 4.6 percent of CEOs.”

Some will offer a response such as “they were not interested” or “we hired the most qualified candidate” but I may suggest the “qualified” is subjective, and research shows that decision makers may be skewed from standardized evaluations across candidates with varying genders.

80/80/80 Solution
There are significant business benefits to engaging and promoting women at each level of your organization which is highlighted in Jeffery Tobias Halter’s book, Why Women, 2015, including “growing revenue, improving operating profit and enhancing company reputation.” His Huffington Post “Why Businesses Need to Attract, Advance and Retain Women” on Aug. 4, 2014.  His “80/80/80 Solution” provide great incentives:

  “80+percent Revenue — generated or influenced by women.
  80+percent Talent — new entries into the workforce that are women and minorities.
  80+percent Engagement — the aspirational engagement level of high-performing companies.”

If you are now thinking more about your perceptions, decisions and promotions, here are a few takeaways to equalize your promotion lens:

  Encourage your hiring managers and recruiters, especially for more senior positions, to read this article and related research.
  Make time to discuss the company’s approach to diverse recruiting and promotions.
  Create a diverse interview and decision team for senior positions.
  Schedule career planning discussions with your diverse talent that aspire to advance in future years.
  Map the benefits of thought diversity for your organization based on Halter’s “80/80/80 Solution.”

JJ DiGeronimo is president at Tech Savvy Women