What Do Men Get Out of Advancing Women?

This month’s blog posting is an excerpt from Rayona Sharpnack, the founder and CEO of the Institute for Women’s Leadership which was posted on the Diversity Best Practices blog site on July 27th. Please see her bio after the blog post.

What Do Men Get Out of Advancing Women?

by Rayona Sharpnack, Founder and CEO, Institute for Women’s Leadership

"I'll tell you one thing, it's always better when we're together."
–Jack Johnson, from Better Together on the album "Between Dreams" 

There are many terms bouncing around the internet these days to describe the ideal state for men and women who work together: gender equity, gender equality, gender parity, and gender balance, to name a few.

To me, these terms have a regrettable tinge of separate but equal. What I envision is Gender Partnership, where men and women of all colors and backgrounds bring their widely diverse talents and skills to the table and work together in service of a common goal. (You might recall my May 4 article on the differences between men's and women's brains and how they make it vital to have both perspectives working on the same issue at the same time.)

Now, not everyone is a "team player" who wants to work in partnership. But I urge each of you to open your minds to the experience of trading some innate preferences or understandable pride in individual achievement for the greater results -- and greater pleasure – that come from truly cooperative success.

There's a catch, though. We know from research and past experience that in order for women to be given an opportunity to express their full potential at work, they need men speaking up for them. Men have the power to open more doors, make others listen, and enlist other men in the cause. They can serve as powerful, positive mentors for women wanting to move up the corporate ladder. They've got the clout, they've got the numbers, and when they support the advancement of women in their companies, they cannot be accused of self-interest. Their words carry weight.

I have seen this first-hand in the companies I work with. Gender Partnership goes from being a slightly suspect new concept to men to an exciting (and well-documented) path to increased profits, better problem solving, more innovation, higher customer satisfaction and increased productivity.

There has been much documented about the economic benefits corporations have yielded from higher percentages of women in leadership. Here are some of the specific benefits men reap from stepping up and speaking out in behalf advancing women to achieve full Gender Partnership.

       •    They can get better performance reviews   

According to a recent study from the University of Colorado, when white men promoted diversity in hiring and advancement, they got a bump in their  performance reviews. (Women and non-white executives who pushed for other minority candidates to be hired and promoted, however, got dinged when it  came to their performance reviews. Women recommending other women were perceived as colder; non-white executives recommending other non-white executives were seen as less competent.)

       •    They can contribute significantly to talent retention among women at their company

A number of respected studies have shown that women are actively (unconsciously) discouraged from returning to work after having a child. The results of a large survey of Harvard's female MBA grads "suggest that when high-achieving, highly educated professional women leave their jobs after becoming mothers, only a small number do so because they prefer to devote themselves exclusively to motherhood; the vast majority leave reluctantly and as a last resort, because they find themselves in unfulfilling roles with dim prospects for advancement."

The Los Angeles Times reported that qualified women are leaving the tech industry in droves. Women in tech say filling the pipeline of talent won't do much good if women keep quitting — it's like trying to fill a leaking bucket… A Harvard Business Review study from 2008 found that as many as 50% of women  working in science, engineering and technology will, over time, leave because of hostile work environments and male cultures, a sense of isolation, and lack of  a clear career path. An updated study in 2014 found the reasons hadn't significantly changed.

The 200 largest law firms in the country are running into the same problem. Women make up just 17% of the equity partners in these large firms. "The reason for the female exodus from traditional law firm life," an article in the American Bar Association Journal said, "likely touches on… poor culture, inflexibility, and archaic and inefficient business structures."

       •    They can be heroes in saving their companies money

Let's take just one example: It costs $150,000 to $200,000 to replace a high tech worker. This includes the cost of recruiting, the hiring and vetting process and training the newcomer. It doesn't even include the losses incurred in terms of the talent relationships that walk out the door.

And consider this: How much does a company have to make on the top line to pay out a bottom line cost of $200,000?

       •    They can help fill the pipeline and ensure their company’s future

Within five years, more than 60 percent of all of U.S. college grads will be women – while simultaneously 10,000 Baby Boomers are turning 65 every day!   Which companies will they choose to work for?  Firms that practice full Gender Partnership and welcome their ideas, career aspirations, and collaborative approaches to problem solving? Or those with cultures that are unfriendly, dismissive of their talents, and slow to promote them to positions of authority?

       •    They can become better people, fathers, husbands and contributors by uncovering their unconscious gender bias

Few of us believe that we go through life having unconscious bias about women or ethnically diverse people. But one only has to take the Implicit Association Test to see that it's alive in us in every category.  Even women are biased against women, blacks against blacks, and so on. Until we come to consciousness about the frame of reference from which we regard and judge others, this won't change.

I have worked with groups around identifying and shifting their frames of reference – their contexts – for more than 30 years. Here is the process for doing so:  1) Identify your current frame of reference (a belief you have that forms a conclusion) that isn't working for you such as “Women with small children won’t take jobs that require travel”; 2) Consciously choose a new contextual frame of reference (e.g. “Women can be trusted to make job decisions that work for their families”).

Another simple example is this. If your current frame of references sees people unlike you as "them" you can choose a new frame of reference that trades in “It's us versus them" for "It's all us." If you look for evidence to support your new frame of reference, I suspect you will find it as readily as you ever did "proof" of  how valid you old frame of reference was.

Man or woman, young or old, Asian, African-American, Latino, Native American – I urge each of you to make the commitment to full Gender Partnership – and check your unconscious bias at the door!

Rayona Sharpnack’s Biography

Rayona Sharpnack is the founder and CEO of the Institute for Women's Leadership, an organization renowned since 1991 for its groundbreaking initiatives in leadership and organizational effectiveness. Drawing from highly successful careers in education, professional sports, and business, Sharpnack is an inspirational teacher, coach and mentor to senior executives across industries. She is also co-founder of GenderAllies, an alliance of inclusion professionals committed to full gender partnership.

Sharpnack's clients include Fortune 500 companies, government agencies, universities and nonprofits, including Pfizer, Gap Inc., Hertz, Cardinal Health, Teva Pharmaceuticals, Microsoft, Proctor & Gamble, Hewlett-Packard and World Pulse. Her masterful approach takes complex theoretical concepts and distills them into memorable and easily grasped learning. More than 20,000 women and men – from mid-level managers to C-suite executives – have relied on her and the Institute for Women's Leadership to coach them to achieve breakthrough results both at work and in their personal lives.

Her pioneering work has earned her numerous awards and appointment as Chairwoman of Leadership Development on the Women's Leadership Board of Harvard's Kennedy School of Government.

Sharpnack has presented her outstanding achievements in advancing women leaders and building high-performance organizations to prestigious institutions and associations such as:
  • Harvard University 
  • Stanford Business School
  • U.C. Berkeley's Hass School of Business
  • State of the World Forum

  • Canadian Federal Government
  • Australian Federal Government
  • Leadership America
  • Professional and Business Women of California
National publications, including Fast Company and The New York Times, have showcased her leadership model.

WIT.Connect: Resiliency & Bouncing Back!

This month’s blog post is a recap of our recent WIT.Connect from June 18th on resiliency and bouncing back from adversities. Our guest writer is an eleventh grader and future Girls in Technology (GIT) member from Bishop Ireton High School in Alexandria, VA.

WIT.Connect: Resiliency & Bouncing Back!

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Is Culture of Overwork Behind Women’s Stalled Advancement?

This month’s blog posting caught our eye. It’s an excerpt from Rebecca Shambaugh posted on June 9th. Please see her bio after the blog post.

Is Culture of Overwork Behind Women’s Stalled Advancement?
by Becky Shambaugh

The speculated reason why fewer women than men reach the leadership ranks has changed over time. From the early to mid-1990s, most explanations for the discrepancy at the top pointed to sexism and sexual harassment of women, according to research from Harvard Business School (HBS). From the mid-90s to 2000, the media chorus shifted to blame women’s exclusion from the “old boy’s club.” By 2001, the focus turned to responsibilities for children as the reason more women couldn’t get ahead.

But in recent years, the pendulum has swung in a different, though related direction—the challenge of balancing work and family, and women’s continued greater burden in managing household matters. Now, a 2015 study being released as part of HBS’s new gender initiative has questioned whether women’s competing work-life demands are really the primary problem—or if America’s corporate culture of overwork is.

The HBS study, co-authored by Harvard professor Robin Ely with researchers Irene Padavic of Florida State University and Erin Reid of Boston University, was based on results from an unnamed global consulting firm with 90 percent male partners. The researchers set out to determine how to both boost the number of women promoted to the higher echelons of the firm, and decrease the number of women who left the firm.

The surprising results were that it wasn’t a lack of family-friendly policies that were the main reason women were held back. Instead, the culprit identified behind this distressing long-term trend was a round-the-clock work culture that demands both women and men alike be constantly available to their boss and colleagues in order to get ahead.

In a recent article in The New York Times, Claire Cain Miller notes that this workaholic expectation is particularly acute in industries like consulting, finance, law, and accounting. Data from the Current Population Survey shows high earners work the longest hours, and that Americans of both genders spend significantly more time in the office today than they did in past decades.

Some take-home points from the HBS study:
  • Men quit at the same rate as women, and were as likely as women (or more so) to blame long hours at work for interfering with their family lives.
  • While more women took advantage of formal flexible work policies (like working part-time) than men, deciding to do so often derailed their careers.
  • Men used different strategies than women to try to deal with the problem of long hours expectations. Unlike women, men often worked their preferred number of hours without asking for their company’s permission, while others reduced travel by finding more local clients or arranging informally for colleagues to cover for them while they attended their children’s events.
  • While men’s attempts like these to maintain work-life balance often led to promotion, women were not similarly rewarded by the company if they left the office at the end of the day or flexed their schedule creatively. In Miller’s article, she reported that the researchers said, “When a man left at 5 p.m., people at the office assumed he was meeting a client. When a woman left, they assumed she was going home to her children.”
There are no easy answers here, yet the study raises new questions about what types of changes in corporate culture might help the problem of women’s stalled advancement. In Miller’s article, she quotes HBS study co-author Ely as asking, “Is it really necessary for people to be on call 24/7? The answer is increasingly no. These professions are beholden to the whims of the client, and every question has to be answered immediately—but it probably doesn’t.”

To learn more about how SHAMBAUGH can help you build inclusive/integrated leadership within your organization, or about SHAMBAUGH’s targeted women’s leadership development programs, executive coaching, and other core services, visit

Rebecca Shambaugh is author of the best-selling books “It’s Not a Glass Ceiling, It’s a Sticky Floor”, “Make Room for Her: Why Companies Need an Integrated Leadership Model to Achieve Extraordinary Results” and "Leadership Secrets of Hillary Clinton."

Rebecca Shambaugh’s Biography

Rebecca Shambaugh is an internationally recognized leadership expert, author, and keynote speaker. She speaks before thousands of leaders around the world every year, challenging conventional wisdom and overturning assumptions about how to lead in today’s business environment. Her compelling and new vision for leadership in the 21st Century has electrified and inspired audiences on six continents.

Rebecca is President of SHAMBAUGH, a global leadership development organization and Founder of Women In Leadership and Learning (WILL), one of the first executive leadership development programs in the country, dedicated to the research, advancement, and retention of women leaders and executives. Rebecca has coached and advised over a hundred leaders and executives and has enhanced their overall level of excellence in such areas as communications, strategic thinking, inclusive leadership, employee engagement, executive presence, and culture transformation.

Prior to starting her own company, Rebecca has worked for such premier organizations as General Motors, Fairchild Industries, and Amax Inc. as a senior executive in the leadership and human capital arena.

Rebecca has been showcased on CNBC, TED Talks, Fox News (New York), NPR, Washington Business, ABC, and numerous syndicated radio talk shows. She has been featured in publications such as: Leader to Leader, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Huffington Post, Time Magazine, USA Today, Fortune Magazine, U.S. News & World Report, Pink Magazine, and Entrepreneur Magazine.

Rebecca is a known thought leader in the industry and is the author of two best seller books titled, “It’s Not A Glass Ceiling, It’s A Sticky Floor” and “Leadership Secrets of Hillary Clinton,” and her new book, “Make Room For Her: Why Companies Need an Integrated Leadership Model To Achieve Extraordinary Results,” all published by McGraw-Hill. Her books illustrate her unconventional and results-focused approach to creating great leaders.

Rebecca partners with a cross-section of clients such as: Booz Allen Hamilton, Dow Chemical, Hilton Worldwide, KPMG, Marriott International, IBM, Cisco, National Grid, Humana, HP, Intelsat, MedImmune, Microsoft, and J&J. She is a member of the National Press Club, the Economic Club of Washington, D.C., on the Board of Visitors for Marymount University, on the Board of the Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce, and on the Executive Board for the Virginia Women’s Center. Rebecca is also the Chairman of the Board of Young Women Lead and an Executive Partner for Bentley University’s Center for Women and Business, as well as on the Board of the Red Cross. Other accomplishments include recipient of the Smart CEO Brava! Award, Women Who Mean Business Award, Entrepreneur Organization of the Year Award, and Finalist for the Outstanding Corporate Citizenship Award for Woman-Owned Business of the Year.

Rebecca holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Industrial Relations from Purdue University and a Master of Arts Degree in Organizational Development from Marymount University.

The Ultimate Mentor to Women: Dave Goldberg

This month’s blog posting is an excerpt from our friend Rebecca Shambaugh, recognized leadership expert and author. This is her timely blog entry from May 6, 2015 on the passing of SurveyMonkey CEO Dave Goldberg. Please see her bio after the blog post.

The Ultimate Mentor to Women: Dave Goldberg
by Becky Shambaugh

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STEM: Engineering the Future for Women in Science

This month’s blog posting is an excerpt from the US Chamber of Commerce Foundation, Corporate Citizenship Center blog.  This piece is by Anna Maria Chavez, the Chief Executive Officer of Girl Scouts USA and is titled STEM: Engineering the Future for Women in Science.

Please see her bio after the blog post. Enjoy!

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FY 2014 Delivers Enterprise Growth in Wireless - Excerpted from Mary Davie’s “Great Government through Technology” GSA Blog

This month’s blog posting is from Mary Davie, you may remember her as one of the speakers on our June 19th panel for Government Leaders at the Helm. Please see her bio after the blog post.

FY 2014 Delivers Enterprise Growth in Wireless - Excerpted from Mary Davie’s “Great Government through Technology” GSA Blog

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The Transformative Nature of Cyber

This month’s blog posting is from Ira E. Hoffman, who is joining us as one of the speakers for tomorrow’s WIT.Connect: CyberConnect-The Intersection of Technology, Law and Law Enforcement. Please see his bio after the blog post.

The Transformative Nature of Cyber

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Do I dare to follow my dream?

This month’s blog posting is from our own Jane Maliszewski, Chair of WIT’s Programs Committee. This post focus on the upcoming WIT.Connect: Dreaming Big, Growing Big, Thursday September 18th, 6:00-8:30 PM at the Gannett Building, 7950 Jones Branch Drive, McLean.Register at: Please see her bio after the blog post.

Do I dare to follow my dream?
Guest post by Jane Maliszewski

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“Easy to Find, Easy to Buy” – Envisioning the Next Step for Cloud Computing on IT Schedule 70

This month’s blog posting is from Mary Davie, you may remember her as one of the speakers on our June 19th panel for Government Leaders at the Helm. Please see her bio after the blog post.

“Easy to Find, Easy to Buy” – Envisioning the Next Step for Cloud Computing on IT Schedule 70

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Consolidating IT Infrastructure: Lessons from the Trenches

This month’s blog posting is from Teri Takai, you may remember her as the Keynote Speaker for this year’s WIT Leadership Awards. Please see her bio after the blog post.

Consolidating IT Infrastructure: Lessons from the Trenches

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The Good and Bad of Technology

By Angela Orebaugh

I live in a high-tech world and my passion is the environment. Recently, I’ve been doing some reading and thinking about how technology can both help and harm our environment. I have addressed this issue indirectly through a number of my articles in this column, including suggesting the consolidation of electronic devices on your smart phone (i.e., combining phone, camera, video, GPS, and games); weighing the green aspects of the Apple iPad versus the resources that it still takes to make one; recycling e-waste; and countless other areas. This article is more direct: how is technology helping or harming our environment? 

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Spring Cleaning and Electronics

By Angela Orebaugh, Booz Allen Hamilton Cyber Fellow

Spring has sprung, the weather is warming, and the time has come to start cleaning out closets, cabinets, and drawers. You may have electronics that you no longer use or no longer work. For the ones that no longer work, find an electronics recycling event in your area. These aren’t easy to come by, but my local Whole Foods Market is having one this spring, so check around. For the electronics that still work, consider donating them to charity. Some organizations to consider for donations include:
  • iPads. Apple stores collect used iPads to donate to Teach for America, allowing teachers in the neediest areas to have iPads.
  • Computers. Used computers can be donated to Computers with Causes and World Computer Exchange for classrooms in the U.S. and overseas. Computers with Causes even offer a free vacation voucher with donation. World Computer Exchange takes working computer parts.
  • Cell phones. Many organizations, including Cell Phones for Soldiers, EcoCell, and March of Dimes accept used cell phones. Sprint and Verizon offer take-back programs for donating used phones to charity. Many Booz Allen locations have regular cell phone collection boxes or drives. Check with your local Green Office Team or Facilities Offices Services team to see if your office has a program.
  • Other Electronics. Recycling for Charities accepts many types of electronics including cell phones, MP3 players, and cameras. It allows you to select the charity to receive your donation.
  • Printer Cartridges. In addition to electronics, Cartridges for Kids accepts all brands of laser and inkjet cartridges and donates the proceeds to the school or charity of your choice.
Make sure to check with the organization about tax incentives-your donation may be tax deductible. Happy cleaning!

Natural Disasters and Green Tech

By Angela Orebaugh, Booz Allen Hamilton Cyber Fellow

Over the past year, we've seen a number of destructive natural events from the June “derecho” that struck the Metro DC area to Hurricane Sandy. These storms caused billions of dollars in damage to buildings and infrastructure, including mass disruption of electrical service. On more than one occasion, electrical crews from dozens of neighboring states were called upon to help repair power lines and restore service to customers. This isn't something I remember seeing much of in the past, but as the population grows and cities and towns expand, the same outdated electric grid is expanding and serving more and more people by the day. During power outages, many without generators flock to the stores in hopes of finding one. Generators provide a temporary crutch until the main power supply is restored, but generators require fuel, often in the form of gas or propane. As we are seeing in New York and New Jersey in the aftermath of Sandy, the gasoline supply is becoming scarce (or inoperable due to lack of power) and rationing and long lines are the current norm.

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