Celebrating International Women’s Day on March 8th, 2014
We’ve just celebrated International Women’s Day. So I think a suitable theme for this blog post must focus on women in executive positions and leadership roles. A topic I am most comfortable with, considering my first hand experience and personal perspective.
Let’s start with the constant question posed by commentators on the ‘workplace’ – being “Why are there so few female executives in senior roles relative to the male contingent?’ (or derivatives of this).
Which I’ll answer as soon as I’ve finished whipping up a batch of homemade soup, called the TV repair man, arranged a veterinary appointment for the dog, had a run around the block (that’s all the time I can allocate to exercise today), and gotten to the office – by 7.30 am, so that I can be ready for my first meeting of the day.
But I digress – back to the question, ‘Why so few women executives at the top?’ Well, there’s a pretty clear answer to that, and it has nothing to do with any incapacity or lacking in skills, intelligence, energy, strength, maturity, wisdom, drive or ambition of professional women.
And everything to do with the fact that most women in their career-climbing years (30 – 40 years of age) are also in their family-rearing years, and unless these women have some kind of super-special domestic set-up combined with the willingness to outsource and delegate most of the domestic issues to 3rd parties (husbands or partners included), they will face the gruelling task of juggling a full-time executive job (you don’t get half-day executive roles) and the needs and demands of family.
In the corporate world, meetings take place at all hours of the day – often first thing (7am) or later in the day (from 4pm), resulting in early starts and late home-coming. Travel is undoubtedly part of an executive’s job description, sometimes weekly – resulting in nights away from home. Weekend conferences for strategy development, team building, and other initiatives are par for the course. Urgent board meetings and ExCo meetings (over and above the regular ones) typically take place after hours. And then because the day is filled with one meeting after another, admin and preparation needs to take place after these….usually on the laptop at home.
Leaving not a lot of time and energy for anything outside of work. And resulting in many extremely talented and capable professional women ‘opting out’ of the corporate world, because they are unwilling to make the compromises and sacrifices required of them.
So the question should not be “Why are there so few female executives”, but rather “When will the demands made of executives allow for flexibility, balance and consideration of family needs?”
But I don’t have the answer to that one, and now I need to dash off to take the cake out of the oven.
All I can say is… women rock….a lot!