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Gender vs. Pay: 10 Worst Industries for Women (the American Experience)

April 24, 2011

In Good Company: Vault’s CSR Blog
Gender vs. Pay: 10 Worst Industries for Women
Posted on Monday, April 18, 2011 10:44:50 PM GMT

Guess which companies continue to disfavor women in pay equity?

In a new study by 24/7 Wall Street, an online financial content provider, it turns out industries that have been the most sought-after by college graduates for a long time now, are the worst when it comes to gender and pay equity.

Compiled by data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Department of Labor, the Census Bureau, as well as Catalyst and The Institute for Women’s Policy Research, the list is worrying.

The list’s bottom eight, while troubling, isn’t the surprising portion of the list:

* 10. Retail (Women’s Median Weekly Earnings: $504 / Men’s Median Weekly Earnings: $634)
* 9. Wholesale ($648 / $817)
* 8. Public Administration ($783 / $998)
* 7. Information ($756 / $997)
* 6. Utilities ($780 / $1,029)
* 5. Durable Goods ($655 / $875)
* 4. Nondurable goods ($577 / $782)
* 3. Health care and social assistance ($648 / $902)

The real worry begins when we reach the top two or the worst industries for median salaries by gender.
2. Professional and technical services

This sector includes accounting firms, law firms and technology companies. Notwithstanding that 57 percent of college graduates are women, men not only continue to outnumber women in these sectors, they also continue to make significantly higher salaries. In fact, women only make 65.9 percent of what their male colleagues take home.

According to 24/7 Wall Street:

• Women’s Median Weekly Earnings: $872

• Men’s Median Weekly Earnings: $1,324

1. Finance and insurance

Needless to say, this sector includes banking, credit card companies, insurance giants, investment banks and private equity. The worst offenders when it comes to gender equity in pay, women earn 62.2 percent of what their male counterparts make.

• Women’s Median Weekly Earnings: $738

• Men’s Median Weekly Earnings: $1,186

Earlier this year, I discussed The Sponsor Effect, a new study by the Center for Work/Life Policy that stressed the need for active career sponsorships for women in the workplace. Identifying the lack of movement among women between the marzipan layer and top management, the study emphasized that what women lack is advocacy from their peers and superiors.

Now this data serves the same headline, i.e., we have a problem. We have the data. We have the studies. We even have vocal advocates like 85 Broads and the Center who are working to raise the ante and address this disparity in all its forms (pay, leadership opportunities, etc.).

But do we have the solution?

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Corporate Social Responsibility
5 Pitfalls That Keep Women from Corporate Leadership
Published by: Aman Singh | Post a Comment

Think women have finally broken through the glass ceiling? Think again. According to The Sponsor Effect–a new study by the Center for Work-Life Policy–there remain five major pitfalls that women continue to face in the workplace.

And most times, a combination of these, according to the study–presented by the Center’s Founding President Sylvia Ann Hewlett at a recent event hosted by American Express–lead to stagnation among female executives in that almost-senior management layer.
1) Friendship

Men (2:1) look at work relationships that help them make connections to get ahead. Women look for friendship.
2) Leadership, Looks & Executive Presence

“Gravitas and speaking skills are important but presentation of self is huge,” noted Hewlett.

Further, the study adds, “Everyone judges women on their appearance, yet no one steps forward to offer guidance. And so—despite sterling credentials, proven capability, and a solid track record—female talent remains mystifyingly, maddeningly, outside the inner circle of leaders who exude ‘executive presence.'”
3) Sexual Politics

Thirty-four percent of women and 26 percent of men suspect a colleague of having an illicit affair. Sixty-four percent of men in senior leadership positions fear having one-on-one conversations with junior women because of a fear of gossip. And for many this from the study continues to resonate: “I’m damned if I do and damned if I don’t.”
4) Meritocracy or “The Dirty Game”

An overwhelming majority of women want to believe in performance while 83 percent of men believe that relationships and connections along with bottom line performance drive success. Why do women continue to think that any other way of getting ahead is dirty? According to the study, it’s a doubled-edged sword: A continued belief that the quality of their work is the deciding factor and an aversion to self-promotion.
5) Ambition & Ambivalence

Women are more aware of family sacrifices. Astoundingly, the study found that after years of struggling for parity in the workplace, women as a group are better situated than ever before to reach for the brass ring but seemingly don’t seem to care for it. “Certainly women hop onto the carousel eagerly…but the longer they’re in the game, the more inclined women are to downsize their ambitions.”

Got a different experience to share or a successful career story that circumvented these pitfalls? Share your story by leaving a comment, emailing In Good Company, or connecting with us on Twitter.

In Good Company: Vault’s CSR Blog
The Sponsor Effect: Why Qualified Women Don’t Make it to The Corner Office
Posted on Tuesday, January 25, 2011 6:44:27 PM GMT | 1 comment

Take a look at the graph below: Isn’t it striking how women just seem to fall off as career levels progress? “This [decline] is why women need sponsors early on their careers. Every job must begin with a sponsor because having an active advocate completely changes your career,” said Kerrie Peraino, Vice President for Human Resources and Chief Diversity Officer with American Express.

The Role of Sponsorship in Career Advancement for Women

I spoke to Peraino before she headed off to welcome attendees to a panel titled “The Sponsor Effect: Breaking Through the Last Glass Ceiling.” The panel—moderated by Harvard Business Review (HBR) Senior Editor Melinda Merino—included senior executives from Deloitte, Pfizer and Intel.

The issue on hand: A study conducted by the Center for Work-Life Policy in collaboration with American Express on what is restricting women from making gains in top leadership positions.
The Last Glass Ceiling

It’s been clear for a long time that there is a glass ceiling in the upper echelons of corporate America. For women who did make it to the corner office–like Avon’s Andrea Jung, DuPont’s Ellen Kullman and Xerox’s Ursula Burns–the path has meant many sacrifices, aggressive personal marketing, and for Burns, an active sponsor in Anne Mulcahy.

And that is what the Center for Work-Life Policy’s latest study aims to highlight: Not a male conspiracy but rather, “a surprising absence of male (and female) advocacy” for women. The report goes on to state:

“Women who are qualified to lead simply don’t have the powerful backing necessary to inspire, propel and protect them through the perilous straits of upper management. Women lack, in a word, sponsorship.”

What is Sponsorship?

In her opening address—after an insightful keynote by Amex CEO Ken Chenault on his career path—Peraino discussed the key observation that led to this study. “Most women that we surveyed at American Express had one sponsor while men had three to four,” she noted, adding that this was a big question of career advancement that required further investigation.

The research, which featured two surveys, 11 focus groups and several one-on-one interviews, resulted in over 4,000 respondents nationwide—all of whom were employed full time at companies with 5,000 or more employees. The results, as Sylvia Ann Hewlett, the founding president of the Center, pointed out, link directly to the 34 percent of female executives who form the “marzipan layer.” (“The talent-rich tranche just below the executive suite.”) And remain there.

She explained: “This barrier is no longer about experience or performance. It is all about relationship-building and connections. Who you know, i.e., sponsors.”

That brings us to the need for a definition for the term sponsor. According to Hewlett, “a sponsor is “someone who advocates for my next promotion and speaks of your strengths and makes the case for your advancement in your absence.” Peraino went a step further. For her, “a sponsor takes calculated risks for you.”

An immediate example to illustrate their point is HP’s former CEO Mark Hurd who was ever-so-expertly sponsored by Oracle’s Larry Ellison last year.
Sponsorship vs. Mentorship

One mistake many professionals often make is of using mentor and sponsor interchangeably. That’s a big mistake, according to the study. “Where a mentor might help you envision your next position, a sponsor will lever open that position for you. A sponsor doesn’t just believe in you; a sponsor believes in you more than you believe in yourself.”

Before the panel began, I asked HBR’s Merino to evaluate mentors vs. sponsors. She advised, “You should never get over-involved in mentoring programs with no outcome of promotion. Instead look for a senior-level person who would advocate for you.” Or in other words, use a mentorship to pave the way to a sponsorship.
Gender Disparity Made Worse By a Recession

But is this really a man vs. woman thing?

Yes, according to these ladies. “There is a reason that women have a harder time finding sponsors,” said Hewlett, leading us through five major pitfalls that women face in the workplace. And fair enough, several felt too familiar for comfort (E.g.: Men (2:1) look at work relationships that help them make connects to get ahead. Women look for friendship!?).

Besides, the study reports, the ongoing recession has made finding sponsors much harder, especially for women. Fifty-two percent of female managers compared to 35 percent of male managers responded that it’s become harder to find a sponsor due to the recession.

One possible reason for this struggle, the data indicates, could be the pressures of a recession on senior management, resulting in no time for professional support and career advancement of their subordinates. Another reason: potential sponsors fear for their own jobs. For Merino, however, there is a “sense of fatigue among women who spend a lot of time in mentoring and leadership advising but don’t see a lot of advancement.”
Why Sponsorship, Why Now?

With few jobs in the market, career opportunities threadbare, and recent news that women now make up more than half of our active workforce, the question on my mind was the ill-timing of this advocacy for sponsorship. Clearly, the panel had foreseen such qualms.

From the get-go, Peraino set the tone for the panel. “If young women realize the importance of sponsorship early in their careers, by the time they reach that marzipan layer, there is no glass ceiling to contend with,” she said in her opening note. With the knowledge that sponsorship is a crucial necessity for career advancement, graduates can begin this relationship-building early on, easing their overall career growth, she added.
Chief Diversity Officers from Pfizer, Intel & Deloitte Take the Stage

For Pfizer’s Chief Diversity Officer Edward Gadsden, the issue isn’t the timing but the right terminology. He explained:

“It has been clear for a long time that when people were asking for coaches and mentors; they were really looking for sponsors. This term—sponsor—will help make it a visible discussion, compelling us to look at our people programs and align our definitions accordingly. For us, this is a huge opportunity. ”

(Interestingly, Gadsden—who has worked with giants like AMD, Coca-Cola and Texaco—was the only executive at the conference, besides being one of very few men present, to acknowledge that for him corporate social responsibility encompassed diversity, sustainability and philanthropy. Readers who read my recent rant on why executives don’t understand CSR will surely commiserate.)

Intel’s Chief Diversity Officer and Global Director of Education and External Relations Rosalind Hudnell added a very different perspective by observing that “relationships could actually be mapped out for people who were moving up.” Not only that, she added, women tended to prefer male sponsors while men preferred to have multiple sponsors. “This acute finding is driving our initiatives at Intel,” she said.

And for Deloitte Consulting’s National Managing Director for HR, Barbara Adachi, this is the final “missing link” for women advancement: “We surveyed 800 partners, managing directors and senior leaders, all of whom had very similar definition and findings.” So, for Deloitte, this meant embedding current employee development and training programs with sponsorship elements rather than starting new programs.

In fact, Adachi went a step further. Referring to an internal initiative, she said, “We embedded sponsorship in our Women’s Leadership Program, for 21 women from the so-called marzipan layer. At the end of 18 months, 18 of them had been promoted.”
Final Words of Career Advice

In the end, I asked Adachi and Gadsden to sum up the criticality of The Sponsor Effect in one sentence. “Look for sponsors internally and mentors externally. And don’t be afraid to ask for help,” advised Adachi while Gadsden took a longer-term view: “This study opens up many avenues of research for us organizationally. You want to be comfortable with your sponsor (at the end of the day) and for that diversity makes a big difference. For sponsorship to work and be embedded across companies from Day 1, the entire employee training and development spectrum must be rethought.”


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