A big 4 consulting firm wanted to find out why women were not staying with the firm. They assumed it was due to the long work hours and women’s desire to spend more time with their family. Dr. Erin Reid from DeGroote Business School shared the stunning (or perhaps not so surprising) results from a study she did.
It turns out men and women equally disliked the long hours and left the organization at the same rate (a stunning 20% turn over rate). And yet significantly more men were promoted. The difference was how men and women addressed the challenge. Through over 100 interviews she found that the men consistently overstated their hours to their peers leading others to think they were working longer than they were. In addition, the men formed small tight groups called tribes that allowed them to share their frustration and manage their workload as a team. The women on the other hand lacked that sense of community and belonging (due to the small numbers) and felt alone and like there was no one to support them and help them manage the workload.
She reported that sterotypes pervaded the organization. Women were assumed to leave work to address their family while the people assumed that the men were meeting clients. When the results were presented to the senior leaders they didn’t care that the men disliked working the hours – they considered it weak to complain.
So what is the moral of the story – stereotypes prevail for sure and we all need to work to address them. As critically important as that is, I found it hard to know how to address it.
What I did find actionable was the suggestion that Dr. Erin Reid made that women need to make an effort to make a tribe of supportive women – and often it needs to be across the industry or across multiple industries so they can find the support they need to thrive and flourish.
I have to say that resonated with me as I found that it wasn’t until I found a community of supporters (my tribe) that I really started to take my business to the next level. What are you doing to create a network of support? It is clear that both men and women need it. If you are running your own business it may be even harder and so you may want to consider joining the Flourishing Business Collective – where business owners come together to share wisdom, advice, and support. Together they think bigger challenge limiting mindsets and rise even higher!
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