An interesting topic of discussion came up at our most recent everywomanClub event last week. Many of our members work in male dominated industries and when the topic of when women should play the game at work, i.e. follow the rules established by a male way of doing business, or go it alone the conversation got quite animated.
Regardless of industry, generally speaking the more senior women get in business, the more likely it is they find themselves outnumbered by male colleagues - it's a pertinent issue.
It was agreed that doing a job well is not enough to get you noticed or promoted. In business, it's still a man's world and understanding the male approach to business is critical to getting ahead. It was noted that this is where having a male mentor has been particularly helpful for some. In fact, men have been an invaluable source of information for women as they try to navigate their way through business, as the 'game' and its 'rules' are often counter-intuitive to women.
What is clear is that, for now, women must strike a balance, choosing when to play the rules or make up their own. But what will affect change in the long term is fostering and bolstering the female talent pipeline so that at every level within business we can get a more even distribution of the sexes. Only then will there be a cultural shift and the 'rules' can be renegotiated.
This is why today on International Women's Day, we're launching the Business Navigator. A guide composed by the very successful women in business that make up the everywomanClub, to help women plan their careers and business ventures and to help them navigate its tricky road.
It's my view that there is too much focus on the issue of the number of women on boards, and not enough on developing up-and-coming female talent. Quotas won't provide a sustainable solution to the problem, bringing on more women through the ranks will. The guide tackles the challenges women face in business including: roadblocks to promotion, returning to work, self-esteem, confidence to lead, and the reality of 'having it all'. We hope it will give women at all levels in business some real guidance.
It's a 'living' document so it will grow and be added to over time. Following our discussion last week, perhaps we should include a male contributor to offer a low down on the rules of business for an additional chapter that will, in time, hopefully become a footnote on the past.