I have not met many women that shy away from hard work or demanding deadlines. However, some work environments make it difficult for high-impact women to consider professional advancement. In Brittany L. Stalsburg’s Huffington Post article “Women Are Working More Than Ever — Inside The Home And Out,” she highlights Whitman Insight Strategies’ research outlining household, financial and caretaking responsibilities by gender.
It is no surprise that women experience a swirl of thoughts that include potential hurdles both at work and at home when considering new positions or projects. This could be deterring their professional ambitions.
The Women Want Five Things executive summary written by The Center for Talent Innovation’s Sylvia Ann Hewlett and Melinda Marshall highlights an alarming change: “Women start their careers hungry to attain a powerful job, but lose their appetite as they age. Even for women without children, and those who are breadwinners, power loses its luster for the 35 to 50 age group.”
Do you see high-performing women in your industry or even in your organization opting for other career choices or even declining promotions? The same research found that these professional women “perceive the burdens of leadership outweighing the benefits when in fact power, our data reveals, is what allows women to thrive and flourish.”
Yet, when I ask professional women during my keynotes and workshops what they want next in their respective careers, many respond with some form of promotion or role with more influence and impact which could be considered an elevation of power. The Center for Talent Innovation explains “women with power are far more capable of achieving their professional goals and making a significant difference in their life and the lives of others.”
In an effort to see more diverse talent thrive in the workplace, especially at leadership levels, it seems important to share this research with decision-makers and executive leaders. Perspective is often the key to understanding the perceived challenges and potential opportunities.
Here are a few suggestions for professional women and executive leaders:
Professional women: If you desire to have more impact, make time to discuss potential career paths with people in your organization that can help you pave your path. You may be afraid to express your desires but remember, it is expensive to replace the experience you bring to work each day. It is often advantageous for leaders to invest in you and your desire to increase your influence and impact, aka power.
Executive leaders: Supporting and investing in diverse talent can be critical to your organization’s retention and leadership plan. Be aware of the perceived obstacles and desires by investing in your emerging talent. Recognize that many may be initially apprehensive and even fearful to ask for help or be transparent on their professional desires. Much of my diversity work with organizations sheds light on strategies to align, support and cultivate talent. A game changer for a team or organization is leaders that make the time. ●
JJ DiGeronimo is president of Tech Savvy Women