By Kerrie Halmi for WomenCo.
You may have heard of the book It’s Not a Glass Ceiling… It’s a Sticky Floor by Rebecca Shambaugh. This title really resonates with me. In my work, I have been focusing on women succeeding in corporate America, and I’ve developed a very similar philosophy to hers. Two of the frameworks of the Women Leadership program I’ve co-developed are taking control versus “being a victim," and avoiding male-bashing.
1.) Taking control
Consider the recent research:
• A recent study of Fortune 500 companies found consistently that women are seen as competent and hardworking, but generally lack intangible skills, such as establishing office alliances, managing their reputation, and mastering the politics of business.
• When Catalyst asked the corporate women what were the challenges they faced to advancement, the top three responses dealt with culture and the workplace environments that create a glass ceiling, including exclusion from informal networks, gender-based stereotypes, and a lack of role models.
• Recruiting experts and executive women say that discrimination is often the first thing people point to as an explanation for a lack of female leaders, but women face other challenges, including their own lack of understanding of business politics, a dearth of female leaders as role models and the never-ending struggle to balance work and family obligations, most notably child-rearing.
It is neither productive nor effective to take a “victim” stance as a woman in business. Our philosophy is to take control of our situations, through recognizing that we have options.
2.) Avoiding male-bashing
While we acknowledge both subtle and overt discrimination against females in the business world still exists, the response is not to be anti-male. Many men acknowledge the fact that it is morally correct for women to have equal roles and understand that it is a strategic business initiative to have women more involved in the running of businesses. Furthermore, most large corporations, particularly the ones that have been around for a while, were started by men and led by men for many years. To try to segregate women from men is counterproductive and will not help the overall cause of women in business.
In her book, Shambaugh lists seven “sticky floors”:
1.) Balancing your Work and Life
2.) Embracing “Good Enough” in Your Work (not being too much of a perfectionist)
3.) Making the Break (not staying in the same place just because it’s comfortable)
4.) Making Your Words Count (my words are: “Find Your Corporate Voice”)
5.) Forming Your Own Board of Directors (network, find a mentor)
6.) Capitalizing on Your Political Savvy (understand what’s really going on)
7.) Asking for What You Want (be assertive in getting your needs addressed)
When women are conscious of these skills and work to hone them, they can lift themselves off the sticky floors.