January 31, 2011 by Ilene H. Lang
In European companies, face time still rules. While half of the women surveyed in our latest report, Unwritten Rules: Why Doing a Good Job Might Not Be Enough Europe, didn’t think working long hours was important, more than 83% said doing so was still key to advancement. “Workers may be told that you can work from wherever, but when they see that those advancing are in the office a lot, then there is a disconnect,” said Laura Sabattini, Director, Research, and author of the new report. Read about one novel solution to managing a culture of presentism—plus news from Australia and Canada—in this edition of C This.
Use ‘Em or Lose ‘Em
Is it ethical for multinational corporations to swoop into foreign countries and hire talented women who are underutilized in the workforce? Yes! “Any time you can recruit talent it offers a company a competitive advantage,” said Lee E. Miller, Adjunct Professor at Columbia University. “If a country is not using its local female talent then it is in the women’s interest and the multinational’s interest to put that talent to use.”
Working the System
Can a well-placed jacket earn you respect in an office that over-values face time? It couldn’t hurt, insists Eleanor Tabi Haller-Jorden, Catalyst’s General Manager in Europe. Haller-Jorden told The New York Times about a little experiment conducted by a senior-level female executive in Europe. “She put her jacket on a chair and started leaving at a reasonable hour,” she said. “Yet people started coming up to her and saying she was putting in a fabulous amount of hours. She said the jacket was the best investment of €250 that she had ever made.”
Fixing the Workplace
A 2010 World Economic Forum survey found that managers from 600 large companies believed that a “lack of role models” and “masculine or patriarchal corporate culture” were the chief obstacles women face at work. Companies across Europe have responded by shifting away from leadership and assertiveness training to instituting formal sponsorship and mentorship programs that pair women with powerful company leaders. “European companies are waking up,” said INSEAD’s Herminia Ibarra. “They are realizing that it’s really about changing the culture.”
Only 3.8% of the CEOs in Canada’s top 500 businesses are women. Are quotas one possible solution? In this wide-ranging discussion featuring background information from Catalyst’s Deborah Gillis, Canadian Senator Celine Hervieux-Payette outlines a proposed bill that would force all publicly traded Canadian companies, banks, insurance companies and trust companies to ensure that at least 5% of their directors are women. Hervieux-Payette was also joined by Dave Gregory, former CEO of First Calgary Credit Union, and Amy Dittmar, Associate Professor of Finance at the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan.
New Year—New Rules
The Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) now requires member companies to set and report on targets for gender diversity at board and senior management level, add diversity indicators to senior management accountabilities, and establish programs to increase the pool of female candidates. With representation of women on ASX boards now roughly only 10%, the new rules are an important step to increasing awareness and transparency. “This year will tell whether rising awareness will force more assertive leadership,” wrote Steve Harris executive director of the Centre for Leadership and Public Interest at Swinburne University.
New research into who creates and consumes content on Wikipedia raises more questions than it answers. A recent study found that barely 13% of Wikipedia’s articles are written by women. The site boasts more than 3.5 million articles in English and 17 million across all languages—each written and edited anonymously. Interestingly, women and men look for information on the site at similar rates. So why do fewer women contribute? Critics allege that women are less willing to assert their opinions in public, but if you ask me, I think women are simply too busy to spend their time anonymously updating the site without receiving any credit for their hard work. What do you think is behind the wiki-gap?