The presence culture battle and women’s careers
How does a Presence Culture impact your work and life?
One of the many challenges women face in the pursuit of their careers is the widespread existence of a "presence culture" in male-dominated corporate organisations. Here, highly visible long working hours are rewarded and therefore encouraged, as employees feel they have to make themselves available. The arrival of the smart phone means that this is extended to 24/7 corporate on-call.The result is linear progression.
It's a "families are for wimps" philosophy.
Research from Harvard Business School Prof. Robin J. Ely, suggests that men in the early stages of their career, feel they need to sacrifice family life to advance their careers. Many women on the other hand are not willing to make that undertaking and either opt out, or take a break, when family decisions become critical. She notes that life and career goals in older survey participants were remarkably aligned and talked "giving back to society" and raising healthy families.
Over work is counter productive
Overwork is very much gender driven, and intrinsic to many male dominated corporate cultures. Time scarcity seems to have become a corporate and cultural badge of success and an indicator of professional status. Yet this is set against a backdrop of a chronic fall in employee engagement. Reports of a reduction in productivity, decreases in creativity and corresponding increases in days lost because of health issues, are now commonplace.
Ironically there has been another shift. Three decades ago more highly qualified employees were less likely to work longer hours compared to lower paid and less qualified. A 2008 Harvard Business School survey of a thousand professionals found that 94% per cent worked 50 hours or more a week, and almost half worked in excess of 65 hours a week. Attributed to the Boomer work ethic characterizing workplace culture, with their work centric focus on hierarchy, power and prestige, successful people now work longer hours than ever. But this doesn’t explain similar overwork cultures found in Silicon Valley.
So where does this originate?
I have a theory, so please hear me out.
The amateur anthropologist in me believes that, deprived of lions, tigers and bears, the modern young male needs a way to prove his resilience and power, outward signs of maleness and masculinity. Long hours and the subsequent success of a linear career, is one way to achieve this, in an age where the modern cave is 4 bed, 4 baths, and a spear is a smart phone. Hours are an easily definable metric, even though they have no relationship with the reality of modern business. Some organizations base their business model on "billable hours" and use them as a tool to measure employee success.
The reality is that in the 21st century men and women can both use smart phones equally well, but we are still being driven by cavemen DNA which is no longer necessary in high-tech, knowledge economies
[Tweet "Women look at what their male senior managers are doing and giving up."] They are losing interest. They don't want to be them.
In a study from Catalyst, there was compelling research that would indicate that that companies with the highest representation of women in top are better performing. Nevertheless the percentage of women in top leadership roles remains depressingly static and low.
Wouldn't it make sense for everyone to change corporate thinking and norms? Why do we resolutely stick to a need for a presence culture.
What has to change is the cultural commitment to overwork imposed on anyone wishing to climb up the career ladder. This penalizes anyone who wants to have some sort of family life. It particularly impacts women who leave organizations such as these in their droves, or opt to stay in lower level jobs. Some businesses compensate for this culture of overwork, by providing corporate mindfulness training and concierge services and even sleeping pods.
But the question is, are they band aids which treat only the symptoms, rather than addressing the core cultural malaise? There is a reason the company does your laundry.
Initiatives to chip away at this regressive mind-set seem to be working. Employee engagement is a hot topic. Sweden is introducing 6 hour days to increase employee satisfaction and productivity. Goldman Sachs has even reported promoting a record number of women to Managing Director status, which might reflect a further sea change in thinking, as their senior echelons achieve greater gender balance.
What is needed is a corporate culture where men and women can thrive, both in the workplace and outside it. This is one area where gender balanced leadership teams would surely have an impact.
Does your company need support to introduce gender balance? Contact 3Plus
Found that interesting?
Learn more about our services
Make your dreams a reality with a professional evaluation of your career to date.
The evidence is in. More women in your company can deliver 35% greater financial returns. (Catalyst)
Dates for the Diary
JUNE 16 TH 2020 - HOW TO MANAGE REMOTE TEAMS MORE INCLUSIVELY
Corporate Online Lockdown Learning Event - European Patent Office .
Download and listen free podcasts
How to Create an Effective USP What is a USP? Our Unique Selling Point or UVP (Unique Value Proposition) is our key core message about where...read more
How to Rethink the Modern Workplace for Gender Equality New research shows that diversity and inclusion is a top priority for leaders. So why...read more
Menopause in the workplace In this podcast with Nicki Williams award winning author, keynote speaker and Founder of Happy Hormones for Life,...read more
How to Cultivate Empathy in the Workplace Nancy Milton, international business communications expert, keynote speaker and author, share some vital...read more
Taking Care of your COW Tanvi Guatam, international Personal Branding expert says there is a misconception out there that a personal brand is...read more
The importance of Hard Talk Dawn Metcalfe, author of Managing the Matrix and Hard Talk, shares with us tips to achieve the lasting communication...read more
When Does Female Rivalry Turn into Sabotage There’s a lot of stuff written on social media about female rivalry and competition between women. Some...read more
Goal setting tips to boost your career The happiest people are those that really love their jobs. Those that don’t, dread Sunday nights and...read more
Sexism: How to stage a Bystander Intervention in the Workplace In this power coaching podcast, we're going to tackle one of the questions...read more
How to Get Noticed by Head Hunters & Recruiters In this power coaching podcast, we're going to tackle one of the questions asked multiple...read more
The minute your image pops up on someone screens people are looking for clues about your personality, your credibility and your competence. A strong online leadership presence is vital.read more
Daily habits to create boundaries during lockdown are vital for a number of important reasons especially to navigate work life balance during confinement. We have to find a way to make that critical separation from our working and professional selves from our other roles for our physical and mental well being.read more
Re-entering the job market can be daunting but our post-corona job search tips for 50 somethings provides all the direction you need to prepare.read more