Friday, May 22, 2015

Are Women and Corporate Cultures a Bad Fit?

Why don’t we respect women?

Apparently, when women enter the corporate world they discover that they do not like it. They discover that they do not want to have the lives they would have if they want to make it to the top.

They want more time with their children and they discover that the higher they rise on the corporate hierarchy the more they are owned by their jobs.

Should we not respect their wishes and their choices? If they do not wish to make it into the executive suite, that is, after all, their prerogative.

It has nothing to do with their inability to lean in.

Women are simply not comfortable doing what needs to be done to be promoted in a male-dominant status hierarchy.

I am sure that you are not surprised.

And I am sure that you accept that women should be respected for wishing to have the kinds of lives that they want to have and for being the kinds of people they want to be.

New York Magazine reports the story:

[A] Bain & Company survey of men and women in the workplace… found that women and men were equally ambitious when they had fewer than two years on the job. But those ambitions changed dramatically among mid-career employees. Women's aspiration to make it to the C-suite dropped 60 percent. Their confidence in their ability to reach top management drops in half. And their ambition never recovers as they become senior leaders within their firms. Men, on the other hand, see a much smaller dip in their confidence, and none in their ambition.

Why is this so?

New York answers:

The question is why, and the survey has some disquieting answers. Here is part of one woman's response to the survey questions:

Watching middle-aged white male after middle-age white male tell their war stories of sacrificing everything to close the sale was demoralizing, I just kept sinking lower in my chair and thinking that I would never be able to make it to the senior ranks if this was what it took.

Another woman responded that “top-level execs are ‘on’ 24/7 and that is not appealing at all.” Another said she did not want “to trade my personal life” for professional success. Many women also reported that their managers were not supportive of their careers. 

The idea is that many women simply do not see themselves as fitting the model of success at their respective firms: They get the message that there's a type of person who's successful, and they aren't it. That's borne out with tons of data. About 40 percent of new women on the job say "I see myself fitting into the typical stereotypes of success within my company." Only 25 percent of experienced women say the same.

You might say that this merely shows that men and women are different and that efforts to make women into ersatz men have failed. It does not mean that women should not work or have careers. It does suggest that they would rather not follow a career path that is more congenial to estrogen-deficient beings.

It will not come as news, but businesses compete against other businesses. If the male model does not work as well as another model, it is in the best interest of all involved to change the way their model.

One suspects that, in the crucible of competition, businesses evolved in the direction of the greatest efficiency and effectiveness.

Heck, even the young tech firms in Silicon Valley are as male dominant as any other businesses. In fact, they are more male dominant than many other businesses.

This is not the way New York Magazine sees things. It suggested, in the article's title, that corporations are in the business of crushing women's ambitions.

The magazine does not consider that women might have a change of heart or a change of mind once they enter the corporate world. They might discover that their ambitions are more varied and less single-minded than are those of men.

This is not the way that Bain sees things. It concludes that if women do not like corporate cultures, the solution is to change corporate cultures.

The article explains:

The [Bain] study concludes that the workplaces in question are failing to provide women with role models and failing to encourage them, and it has a number of suggestions for improving corporate culture to retain female talent. Providing women with role models and mentors, and rewarding employees with nontraditional work schedules and career trajectories might be a good place to start, they argue.

A lot of companies could go much further than that, though: allowing for more flexible work schedules, encouraging people to actually use those flexible work schedules, and celebrating people who succeed using those flexible work schedules. That would especially help women aiming for the C-suite while dealing with a family at home. This Bain study did not find meaningful differences in the responses of women with kids and without. But many other studies have.

Need we say, any company that wishes to implement such policies should do so. It will find out whether they improve the company environment and the bottom line. If it produces more profit and happier employees, this would demonstrate Bain’s point.

If, however, the new woman-friendly policies turn out to be man-unfriendly, corporate harmony and cooperation might suffer. Again, companies are at liberty to take such risks.

After all, it is difficult to have two different genders working according to different rules and still respecting each other.

Finally, we must wonder why Bain, a consulting firm, has produced a report that seems more clearly geared to actualizing a feminist dream than improving company performance.


Ares Olympus said...

re: It will not come as news, but businesses compete against other businesses. If the male model does not work as well as another model, it is in the best interest of all involved to change the way their model. One suspects that, in the crucible of competition, businesses evolved in the direction of the greatest efficiency and effectiveness.

Haha, it would be nice if this was true.

First it seems foolish to clump all businesses in one "male model", while what you really have perhaps is at least two broad categories, i.e "a growing company" and a "mature company" and these two beasts have very different models, or they should.

A second difference to consider is "publicly traded" and "employee owned" companies which might have different "values." That is is may be true that "shareholders" are king, and so if they're primary interest is "dividends and rising stock values", then perhaps the male hierarchy will get them there, at least in the short run. Think Enron?

And it might be "nonprofits" will always attract more women interested in making the world a better place than making a killing.

And are there not articles talking about the downside of the type-A personality men? Don't they die young of heart attacks? Don't their trophy wives leave them once the kids are grown or when the "net wealth" balance looks splittable?

Perhaps some businesses thrive because of the personal sacrifice of a few alpha males, and perhaps such men are following their "selfish gene" which works just good enough to produce offspring, and its okay if they die early, or put a bullet in their head once their usefulness to society is over.

Anyway, I guess we all can agree such men are useful to society, and few men, and fewer women prefer to walk in their shoes.

Ares Olympus said...

re: Women are simply not comfortable doing what needs to be done to be promoted in a male-dominant status hierarchy.

Speaking of "male-dominant status hierarchy" I wonder if that helped explain China's rocket rise since 2000, tripling their economic output?

I don't think any of us can imagine what that wheeling-and-dealing world is over there, but it seems believable that its a man's world, or at least in competition. And with 30 million more men than women in their one-child world, imagine the pressure to succeed? And women can just pick the cream of the crop, those who have the best alpha traits of beating the competition in all fields of work and play.

So that's an experiment on the grand scale, and a good reason why some, including myself, suggest China are the ultimate Enron, cutting all corners until they are a moral sphere of perfect smoothness, while a rotten shell.

Should women try to "reform" Chinese corporations by "leaning in" and fighting as hard as men? Of course not.

But who is going to pick up the pieces when it all goes crumbling down?

Anyway, that's my attempt at connecting too blogs for today:

It is strange so much can be said without any recognition it's all about overachieving men fighting for status for their "reproductive fitness".

I wonder if single-child men learn "emotional resilience" as well as the previous generations where they were just one of 6 kids?

Perhaps we can look back at 1929 America. You always imagine its the men who are jumping off buildings when their paper wealth disappeared. But we never think about the women they left behind.

Economic collapses are more fun to view from a distance, and yet perhaps the individual Chinese billionaires will still have the last laugh, with their wealth properly diversified into and divided so they can leave town to their new homes in Switzerland or New York to continue refining their hard earned lessons on how to "Enron" a billion people and give us "success seminars" so we can get rich and do this too.

Okay, really none of us knows what will come next, but we also didn't know what would happen to Enron, and "the smartest guys in the room."

We had no idea! Women might be able to moderate the men, but first they'd have to see what a mess they're going to have to clean up later when women let men run the world.

Anonymous said...

It depends on how one defines ambition.

When it comes to domineering professional ambition, men tend to be more intense. Why are there more male daredevils?

But if we expand the meaning of ambition, women are ambitious in different ways.

A woman feels a strong need for family-ambition or fambition.

There are many kinds of power. One is rising in politics or the corporate world.

The other is marrying a man of respect and wealth. And good looks and virility. Pride comes in having such a man as husband. Pride comes in having his seed in one's womb. Pride comes in raising kids who will grow to be strong, beautiful, and successful in profession and/or family.

So, when a woman quits her job to raise a family, it's not so much rejection as a preference for a different kind of ambition--fambition.

It's like if a man quits a high paying job to become a writer, it isn't necessarily rejection of ambition. It could be he is now ambitious about being a critic, artist, philosopher, or thinker.

Family isn't just about 'domesticity'. It is about the future. It is about raising future kids of power. It is about pride of wife-hood(I have a great husband) and pride of motherhood(I love and feel proud of my kids).
Children are a biological and cultural investment in the future.

Also, whether one works or raises a family, one is living through others.
A teacher lives through serving his/her students.
A bus driver lives through serving his/her passengers.
Every job is about providing service or goods to others.

A woman who builds bikes is serving all those who needs bikes.
A woman who creates and raises children is serving children of her flesh and blood.

The latter seems more rewarding.

Of course, some women love their jobs. Those are cool jobs but they are relatively rare. Most jobs are drudgery.
This is true of men too. Most men have boring jobs. If they won a lottery and could live like aristocrats raising families and riding horses(and doing fun stuff), they would quit their jobs too.

The problem is that feminist leaders tend to be successful women with cool jobs, and they think they are typical of womanhood. But your average woman is more likely to be a checkout cashier at Walmart that the CEO of Yahoo or some well-paid personality on TV.

Another problem is the implosion of the middle class and working class. As it's more difficult for men to find good middle class jobs, women don't see them as good catches. A woman's fambition comes from being married to a man of power and means. The elite class of men have the means to be show off as the kind of men women would love to marry and say "I'm so proud to have a man like my husband and it would be an honor to raise his children."

But in our ultra-narcissistic age of FIFTY SHADES OF GREY, how many men can offer that kind of package?

Anonymous said...

Women are acting crazy because men have become a bunch of wusses.

In a way, feminism is self-defeating. It calls for equal opportunity in the work place for women.
But in boosting female narcissism and confidence, it makes women seek out men with good jobs and future.
But if women compete for jobs with men, fewer men will have good jobs and that means fewer men will be appealing to women as partners in life. That means fewer families and fewer kids, and that means the death of a race.

This is why the only real winners are the uber-successful male professionals. They do so well in the new economy that women still want to marry them.
As for other men, they’ve become far less appealing.

Men are disadvantaged vis-a-vis women in a crucial way.
Women are respected as either workers or wives.
But men must have jobs to win respect because women don’t wanna marry men without jobs, especially good jobs.
So, things are not equal between women and men. Women have two equally viable options to be attractive as mates.
Men have only one in order to be attractive as mates.

Indeed, many more women quit their careers to become wives/mothers, it is because they have that choice. They can win respect if they continue to work; they can win respect if they choose to be wife/mother. But men don’t have that choice. They can’t just quit work to be husband/father. No women will respect them. Society will call them ‘losers’.

Anonymous said...

Women have ovaries for a reason. All of our organs exist for a reason.

We have lungs. We have hearts. We have livers. We have ears. We have eyes. Whether we want to use them or not, they are constantly being used.

Some organs function regardless of our will. Hearts continue to beat, and livers function independent of our wills.
Some organs rely on our action. We can choose not to eats and starve the stomach of food. But then, we die.

Sexual organs are a little different. Unlike hearts and lungs, they don't belong to both sexes. Females have female organs, and males have male organs. And they don't have to be used for an individual to live. A woman can live an entire life without getting pregnant, and a man can live an entire life without getting a woman pregnant.

But to the extent that women produce eggs and men produce sperms, their bodies urge their sexual organs to be used. They are reproductive organs and meant to produce new life. But modern society, through contraceptives and abortion, has made it possible for men and women to use sexual organs merely for pleasure and nothing else.

At any rate, if individuals only want to live their own lives, their sexual organs don't have to be used.

But they should remember that they exist in the first place only because their parents used their sexual organs to produce life. And after they die, they will continue to live on only through their children. Though individuals are born, live, and die, they are links in the chain of life. They are extension of their parents and their children are the extensions of themselves.

So, if we gain a larger sense of life based not only on individualism but on the lineage-ism, then we realize that testes and ovaries must indeed be used for people to truly belong to the family of life.

All individuals live and die regardless of whether they have kids or not, but if they have kids, their bloodline lives through their children. Children aren't merely new individuals. They are continuation of the life of their parents. In that sense, even after you die, you live on in your kids and grandkids and so on.

Anonymous said...

Are men more aggressively competitive than women are? I would say Yes. But here's the paradox. Because males are more aggressive and competitive, they tend to fail more in school and in life. Colleges are now 60% women and 40% men. Over 70% of black college graduates are female.
Why is this? Because the less aggressively competitive kind of people work for the longterm goal whereas highly competitive people tend to go for short term goal.
In our overly sexualized and narcissistic era, a lot of young males define ambition in terms of 'how many girls can I score?', 'how can I win respect by imitating rappers?', 'how can I make it on the school football team to gain social status' But those are wasted energies on short term without long term payoff(unless one can really make it as a millionaire rapper or pro athlete).
In contrast, girls are more likely to hit the books, which is why more girls finish school, go to college, and find meaningful work. Too many guys are like the 'cool dude' in Blue Valentine. Forever stuck in 'virile youth' mentality.
Think of Asians. Asian males are less aggressively competitive than white males and especially black males, yet generally they achieve more.
Black males are very competitive, aggressive, and ambitious in acting macho and badass. But many burn out quickly, end up in jail, or fail to develop social skills for college and job place. Michael Brown was highly ambitious, so much so that he figured even cigars should be taken for free. He was egotistical and aggressive. So, how did he end up?
So, even though aggressive competitiveness can do wonders for men with high IQ and high self-discipline, it can actually do more harm to lots of males with lower talents of the lower classes.
Most people are not very smart or brilliant. So, excessive ambition doesn't do them much good. What they need is diligence and realistic assessment of their prospects in life.
Btw, feminists themselves admit that men are more ambitious when they argue that a world ruled by women would be better than a world ruled by men since women prefer consensus over competitiveness. Feminists have used that argument many times, i.e. the problem with men is they are too competitive and try to be #1 whereas women are more willing to work in team spirit and for mutuality.

Dennis said...

A little blast from the past:

The real problem is feminism not allowing women to make their own choices not whether women and Corporate cultures fit. There will always be some women who will fit, but they choose to accept what goes with it.
As Paglia states the happiest women she knows are the ones who stay at home and enjoy their children. Feminism would be wise if it accepted success and let women be the women they desire to be. Given that women who mother their children have one of the most profound affects on the future that anyone could possible want why wouldn't many a woman desire that place in life. Do we remember our mothers or some person who was a CEO? CEOs come and go and most of what they create has a small life cycle whereas a mother is forever through the affect of everyone who will become part of that family.
Surprisingly enough, most people don't want to run a corporation, be president or any of the things we consider great. Most want a life that is enjoyable, has love in it, a chance to be all they would like to be and the ability to meet life's challenges. Notice it is about the individual wants and desires.
Just because we are men, women, black, white, heterosexual, bisexual, of foreign extraction, does not mean we want the same things that all these nifty little stereotypical categories some choose to define us by tell us we should want. We are individuals first with our own set of desires and goals first and in many case only marginally care about the rest of the groups to which we belong.
At some point I would like to believe that we would see ourselves as Americans and treated each other in that manner without regard to all the other poorly defined categories that depend on things that really have no value to one's happiness.
What good is a title if all there is is a bit more money vice all the joys that a well lived life can bring?

Anonymous said...

I've been reading "Hackers; Heroes of the Computer Revolution" by Steven Levy. I wonder if it does not shed some light on male bonding and drive, in a different context than combat. Levy describes how the early MIT Hackers in the sixties would go in for programming marathons of a 30 hour day phase, followed by an eight hour night phase. The utility of this is that to be maximally productive, the programmer has to get to the state where he has the entire program in hand and can see the implications of any change to the overall structure. It would take hours of concentration to get to this state, so once attained it was most productive to go on programming. This made it possible to achieve things other programmers could not, certainly not in the same time frame. Hackers was a society defined by one's ability to master programming. If you could do it, you were in, if you could not, nothing else mattered. Within this group there was an ethic of sharing. All of your coding effort and techniques were there for others to improve upon. There were no women in this group.