One of the reasons women generally aren't occupying the top executive suites of corporations is they tend not to embrace the art of self-promotion. Men, however, do quite well...

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One of the reasons women generally aren’t occupying the top executive suites of corporations is they tend not to embrace the art of self-promotion.

Men, however, do quite well at pumping themselves up as assets to a corporation.

These findings come from a study of 2,900 employees in five industries by ISR, a Chicago-based employee-search and consulting firm. The study unmasked differences between how the sexes function at work.

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Many executive-level women place a premium on the “communal” aspects of the workplace. They value working relationships, customer quality and communication above all else.

Many men in those positions, by contrast, are driven more by what’s at stake for them personally. They tend to rate career development, compensation and a balanced workload as the things that will keep them committed to an organization.

“For women, it’s all about what’s good for the company,” said Kim Morris, project director with ISR. “For men, it’s more about strategies for advancement.”

Morris recently discussed the study and its implications.


Q:

What else did the study find?


A:

Well, for female executives, key drivers are working relationships, things like “How well do we work together within the department?” and “Are we serving our customers well?” They’re also focused on communication across all levels of the organization. “How well-informed am I about the goals and the direction of this organization?”

And, they said another key driver is work tools and conditions. “Do I have the resources I need to get the job done?”


Q:

What does this imply?


A:

The trap is there’s not enough focus on what women need to do … to move up.


Q:

Why is that?


A:

Part of what’s going on is that for such a long time women have heard they have to think about strategic issues related to the company’s development. They have to understand line operations and profit and loss and everything about running the company, and they forget about their career development.


Q:

But don’t men have to understand all that, too?


A:

Yes, as men move up they do have to think about the company. But they also think strategically about themselves as well.


Q:

So what message should people take from these findings?


A:

A key takeaway is related to how empowered women at the executive levels feel. It’s often “I have achieved more than most women in corporate America and so now I don’t want to rock the boat.”

You would think women at that level would feel empowered, but … they don’t. It’s a subtle, unconscious thing that happens. And if women don’t feel empowered, they will find it very difficult to be successful.