In April 2013, Harvard Business School (my alma mater) celebrates the 50th year anniversary of admitting women to that prestigious institution. After years of being an all-male institution, as the premier institution for training managers they finally accepted the fact that training women and minorities to meet the anticipated changes in demographics was an important part of the school's responsibility.
To celebrate women's contributions to culture, history and society, March was designated as Women's History Month by passage of a law in 1987. Over the years, women have made progress in the right to vote, becoming managers in corporations, starting their businesses and advancements in education, to name a few. While successes have been made, there is still work to be done. It continues to be a frustrating experience for many women who want to climb the corporate ladder. Some reasons can be attributed to women themselves. i.e. having a negative attitude, undervaluing their true worth, afraid to aggressively pursue what they want and lack of confidence. Sometimes the reason is beyond their control. The environment may not be conducive to the advancement of women, women not being included in the inner circle or politics in the workplace.
In order for women to make progress in corporations there has to be support from the top, whether top management is male or female. In general, people are reluctant to change unless there are incentives to do so. For many managers, having women as a part of the team represents a change. There is evidence that women are taking more control over the advancement of their careers. Some have elected to make the necessary sacrifices to advance in corporate America and others have decided to leave the corporate world and start their own businesses.
Whatever the future for women in the workplace, it is not an issue that is likely to go away in the foreseeable future. Both genders must assume responsibility for finding ways to create environments that are inclusive of both. Men and women may lead differently so combining the skills of both will contribute to a stronger team.
Recently, I conducted a survey of men and women in mid and upper management position about women in leadership. Click here if you would like to see a copy of that study.
Causes Lillian Lambert Supports
American Cancer Society, American Heart Assn, Howard Universit, Impact 100 of Richmond