Tag Archives: Talent pipeline

5 tips to communicate well with a hiring manager

Every head hunter wants to identify, attract and place the best candidates.  But how smoothly the whole process goes can depend on the personal relationship a head hunter or recruiter has with the hiring manager. It is it one that is too frequently overlooked. All parties have to work together to attract and hire the top talent for any specific role. This requires excellent communication between everyone involved to create the best possible synergy to deliver first class service. As early as possible, headhunters must set out to communicate well with a hiring manager,  whether this is the line manager or the HR representative who runs the show internally.

Read: Meaningless interviews with HR. Really? 

communicate well with a hiring manager

Here are 5 tips to communicate well with a hiring manager

#1 Communicate regularly

It doesn’t have to be face to face meetings, but regular Skype or conference calls are best. The greater insight the recruiter has to any developments within an organisation the better the service she will be able to provide. It’s vital that each party understands the challenges that the other is experiencing and regular updates are part of the conversation.

#2 Communicate openly

If contact between a hiring manager and recruiter is perfunctory, with minimal communication centred around the routine bureaucratic issuing of  hiring specs, reports or funnel stats, then the chances of things going adrift are higher. It’s important to have a thorough understanding of the company, the culture, the team, as well as the role. Listen generously but asking those critical questions until you are confident that you have a good insight is necessary. Sometimes it’s important to be persistent. It’s also useful to get an idea of the sub-text and the personalities involved. Companies have any number of unspoken work-around practises to deal with tricky situations. This might be a difficult boss, a specific policy, or market challenges.

Making sure that communication is open and constructive is the best way to avoid candidates sinking into the recruitment black hole.

Read: The CV black hole. One hiring manager says give me a break.

CV black hole

#3 Communicate realistic expectations

It is important to differentiate between what the hiring team thinks they want and the skills that are  really necessary for the role. Very often objectives get blurred. Vanity qualifications can slip in if a manager gets kudos for leading a team of MBAs  or rocket scientists. If the hiring manager is replacing himself, then very often they will look for a “mini-me”. It’s important to factor in a balance of skills and experience for the whole team. Do you need to make nudges around unconsicous bias or other protocols? Or at least make the proposal. You maybe over ruled, but you have made the best case. In a relationship of trust your opinion will carry weight.

It’s the role of the recruiter to update the hiring manager with any market trends. You may know of skill gaps in the region, but you are also armed with solutions such as the cost of bringing in someone from another geographic region. Would it be cheaper to pay relocation expenses than wait to identify the elusive “purple squirrel?” Could they offer some training, flex or a returnship? Sometimes the obvious solution is not always the best.

Read: A plea. Keep job profiles real

#4 Communicate continually

The recruitment process doesn’t stop on the first day of work but is extended well after the onboarding process is complete. Establishing how new hires are settling down and even better getting testimonials from them helps cement the employer brand as a place to work. As social proofing sites become increasingly important, candidates do check out how employers stack up on the market. If there are issues they will come to light. You should keep an eye on how your client is perceived on the market.

If you have provided a stellar service to their company ask them for endorsements, testimonials or recommendations to display on your web site or LinkedIn profile. This helps build up your brand and reputation.

Read: 6 sand traps that cause onboarding fails

relationship with a hiring manager

Feedback is vital for all involved

#5 Communicate feedback

If a hiring manager commits to embarking down a certain path, it is the role of the recruiter to let her know the potential outcomes. Will there be delays or additional costs associated with a specific decision? Equally it’s important that you know why candidates are being cut or there are delays in the process. Is it something you can remedy at your end or will it need careful candidate management? You will also need to establish the same relationship with candidates and be adept at dealing with any input they have to make about their candidate experience.

It’s also important to give candidate feedback. If the number of “not interested” candidates is high it’s important to establish why that is. It could be location, job title or another element of the profile.  This information is important to protecting an employer brand.

If all these communication hacks are in place the chances of you finding top talent in excellent time are going to be much higher! Your relationship with a hiring manager is going to be first class.

Strengthen your talent pipeline contact us  

talent drain

Post Brexit uncertainty starts talent drain

The business world is trying to make sense of the implications of Brexit in a world now characterized by uncertainty. It was clear that this shock result, from which we are still reeling, was so unexpected that almost no one had a post Brexit plan. Against many unknown factors, businesses are trying to create strategies for changes which will significnatly impact the workplace. Practises related to E.U. rather than U.K. legislation, will be examined as new agreements are set up. Some experts are saying this could take up to 5 years.  One of the major elements will be the rights of E.U. workers in the U.K. and U.K. workers in the E.U. But what had not been anticipated is an immediate talent drain as skilled workers seek early voluntary repatriation or relocation to other parts of the E.U.

Yep. That’s right – some people actually want to leave now! Can you believe that?

Overall picture

The highly emotional and divisive referendum campaign and brexit shockthe subsequent leadership debacle, dealt a savage and damaging blow to Brand Britain on the global market. We now live in a new age of uncertainty. The CIPD reports that in general, 44% of working adults say they feel pessimistic about the future as a result of the UK’s vote to leave the EU, while one in five say they feel their job is less secure. Unfortunately, in the wake of this, we have witnessed an astonishing and aggressive xenophobic backlash against non-UK nationals studying, living and working in the U.K. Many European nationals are now reporting “feeling unwelcome” in a country which they have made their home, some for many years.

The U.K. government has made some half-hearted attempts to allay the fears of E.U. residents in the U.K. With a lack of definitive statements, many are unconvinced. Head hunters and recruiters are reporting increased numbers of spontaneous CVs and applications from individuals looking to leave the U.K, – now, or as soon as possible. This is also my experience.

The Talent Drain

What seems surprising is that no one factored in a potential talent drain before the referendum.  It should have been evident that if politicians run divisive campaigns based on hate, specifically targeting non-U.K. residents, the U.K. will be perceived as (and even become) a less attractive place to seek employment for workers who have choice. By this I mean those with strong transferable or difficult to find and attract skills.

The UK Commission for Employment and Skills’ (UKCES) Employer Skills Survey 2015 of 91,000 employers has already reported a chronic skill shortage even before the referendum.  The people who are reconsidering their positions are people who can go anywhere. In the mean time the talent drain has started.  Other E.U. nationals who might have had their eye on a U.K posting particularly London, are now re-thinking their career strategies.

What is behind this talent drain?  

These are just the comments I’ve had to indicate a potential talent drain.

  • Uncertainty: a Commodities Analyst with a Spanish based London bank suggested that “the U.K. is showing a post Brexit slow down. Uncertainty and a lack of confidence are damaging for everyone in the short-term. For my career, it would be better to move to another European financial services centre. I speak German and French so could move to Paris or Frankfurt. Dublin would also be a possibility. It’s anticipated that some Banks will move their whole operations so I may wait a while and see what happens , but I have sent my CV out. The current atmosphere is depressing and gloomy.”
  • Xenophobia:  a French strategy manager with a global logistics company said “there is definite backlash against foreigners now, which was whipped up hysterically before the vote and is being fuelled even now by a partisan press. I can handle it fine, but the kids are being targeted in school for their French accents and that’s not O.K. It’s not just against low paid Poles.”  A German account manager also reported abusive comments and being told to “go home.”   This is apparently rife. 
  • Fear of housing market collapse: others who have bought property in the U.K. particularly the South East at premium prices are concerned about a possible fall in house prices leaving them in a negative equity situation, especially as the pound has fallen to the lowest it’s been in years. They see an early departure as vital.
  • Concern about new requirements:  many would rather leave now voluntarily, than be made to go in two  or five years’ time. This would be dependent on the type of trade deals that are  negotiated and there are concerns.
  • More openings now:  there is a feeling that there would be more international openings in other E.U. centres now, rather than later. There might also be less competition for those jobs.
  • Concern about reduced conditions: a Marketing Director from Stockholm indicated concerns about employment conditions deteriorating “The only way the U.K can offer advantages to international organisations is to offer greater tax breaks (already happening) and greater flexibility with employment conditions. This will work in favour of the employer. I anticipate a loss of employment protection similar to the type of systems in place in the U.S. which would be negotiated with a T.T.I.P. deal. We could see a shift to very exploitive employment practises I fear.”           
  • Citizenship: with the question of  the right to work under investigation, perhaps requiring British citizenship, the uncertainty around this issue is a concern for some. They would want to maintain dual citizenship so they could work in the U.K. and Europe.

What did they expect?

A Belgian research scientist told me “There is no doubt that a hostile environment has been created by the politicians and press during the referendum campaign against multiculturalism. Beneath the British veneer of outward civility, it’s obvious now there is a seething layer of resentment towards foreigners which has become clear to non-Brits in the last month.  Although I am not a direct target-(yet) the U.K. is just not an easy place to be at the moment for overseas workers or students.” 

Over the next months we will find out how things play out. Currently everyone seems to be carefully treading water. A more cynical H.R. analyst suggested that those E.U. nationals with strong skills will eventually be able to command premium salaries in the U.K.. “Most politicians have no idea of the true level of skill set shortage in the U.K. Brexit was not expected and almost no one had a plan.  Individuals should just bide their time. By 2020 if anyone leaves the U.K., they will probably be able to return at even higher salaries. And for anyone currently paid in Euros or dollars – they are already ahead.”

Interesting thought. What do you think?

Big Data

A big danger for Big Data – the human element

The  trend for Big Data is one of the current buzz movements with HR being encouraged to embrace every element of big data analytics. A Towers Watson survey of more than 1,000 organizations last year found HR data and analytics to be among the top three areas for HR technology spending.

Benefits of Big Data to HR 

In theory, Big Data allows HR management and executives to make more effective and informed decisions.  Identifying, analyzing and responding to employee activities and performances allows organisations to gain greater insight into employee practices, motivation and overall engagement. This will lead to better hiring decisions, higher retention levels, a greater ability to assess training needs, support succession planning, identify areas of potential attrition, and finally measure the effectiveness of training initiatives.

This mass of strategic data can help employers and hiring managers identify future employment and employee trends within their organisations, to better manage the workforce. The bottom line is big data is a fantastic opportunity to accumulate information on which to base strategic management decisions related to the talent pipeline.

Then what?

At a recent HR Influencers Workshop hosted by Andy Campbell, HCM Strategy Director, Oracle, the discussion centred around the overall effectiveness of big data. I confess to being sceptical. The reason for this is that big data is subject to human implementation. And in the whole process, different interest groups will have a different “why?”  Whose interests are being served?  What are the business objectives? Very often commercial imperatives will not be the same as those of the employees, communities, national or sector interests. We see this with AirBnB and Uber.

Big data also takes no account of the human inclination to a cherry pick and choose the bits that suit them best. As an employment lawyer reviewing a contract I submitted recently said  “Whose interests do you want me to protect?” 

Big Data and Gender Balance 

Nowhere is this more apparent than in the area of my special interest, that is of gender balance and diversity. Despite the overwhelming business case for diversity in organisations, not only are the statistics remaining static, but there is growing evidence that there is even something of a backlash against these initiatives.

Mckinse business case

Research from JUMP and Axiom Consulting would suggest that far fewer men are open to supporting gender balance initiatives than was hoped for.

” Executives and senior managers are generally more supportive and active, whereas middle managers are not. Active engagement from those who favour gender equality comes mainly from the top of the organisation (39%) rather than the employees (12%). The men who are the most resistant to more gender equality are employees (43%) and middle managers (33-36%), in particular men who are between 30 and 40 years old (40%)”

David D’Souza  Head of London & Head of Engagement, CIPD, commented in the HR Influencers  workshop, that this age group is the very one where men “settle down, start families and take-on mortgages. They become more conservative at this point in their lives.”    Read: The angry white male is not who you think  Further research from HBR carried out amongst millennials the US suggests:

“..  aserious concern that unless something is done soon to change Millennial men’s attitudes toward women, these men ascending to the C-suite may hinder — rather than advance — current efforts to reduce the discriminatory effects of gender bias.”

Unconscious bias training 

brain change

You would think that this would be an education issue then?  Unfortunately, it seems there is also a negative reaction towards diversity or unconscious bias training. Research cited in the Harvard Business Review, Why Diversity Programs Fail  by sociologists from Harvard University and Tel Aviv University, indicates that mandatory diversity training is not only ineffective but can actually produce negative results.

I have certainly encountered this personally. Even with diversity and gender balance training sponsored by a company President, the resistance within the group, came from the exact demographic referenced in the JUMP/Axiom Report. Factor in reduced engagement and interest from younger and more junior age groups, the picture is quite bleak.  I have also participated in initiatives to encourage the involvement of men. When these projects are voluntary, the engagement is sadly luke warm.

The HBR researchers also found that talent management strategies such as skill and strength tests, even led to declines in the number of women and minorities in the companies’ workforces over time. “Managers don’t like being told who they want to hire, so they often distribute tests selectively,”

Rock and hard placesRock1

So it looks like we’re caught between a rock and a hard place. Big data points to the overwhelming business value of gender balance and diversity programmes. But there are very strong indications that the big data recommendations are being ignored by the very layers of organisations tasked with every day implementation of these initiatives. Recognising that this is rooted in unconscious bias, attempts to create awareness, is sabotaged or ignored.

When my son was a toddler he was resistant to wearing new clothes, so we had to leave new outfits on his bed until he finally got used to the smell and feel of them. Until they felt familiar and safe. Is this what organic change is about, a century long process to overcome resistance to change? It looks as if we are going to have to devise small group coaching programmes to literally coax multiple generations of the value of this big data!

With big data, the big danger is that everyone interpreting it has a different “why.”  It’s all down to whose interests get priority and the human element.

Why your candidate experience is good for business

The link between candidate experience and your talent pipeline

Fuelled by decreased unemployment, retiring baby boomers and different workforce expectations and behaviour, the skirmish for the very best top talent is intensifying. Many organisations pay no or very little attention, to their candidate experience process. It’s either outsourced or automated, with varying degrees of success and efficiency. Ads frequently display clauses “If you haven’t heard from us in 6 weeks, you are not successful”. 

Clearly that side of outsourced automation passed them by. But what that line flags up, is that the company needs to place an ad.

They don’t have a talent pipeline.

Succession planning is critical yet the reality is that apart from the largest organisations, many companies have only the vaguest idea who should cover the gaps when they arise. Oftentimes it’s based on workaround solution which are far from ideal.  They look for the “right now” candidate, rather than the right one.  This is when all companies need to have a strong talent pipeline in place.

Shorter time to hire

Guaranteeing the shortest time to hire has assumed a new significance. Companies need reserves of potential and good candidates, who can be brought in at short notice. That process relies on a flawless candidate experience history offered by your company, which should be second to none, and certainly better than your competitors. Poor candidate experience is now just bad for business.

Research from Career Builder shows that it is “high-touch, not high-tech” that guarantees a successful experience: 61% of job seekers reported speed of response as being critical, while another 58% cited regular updates  No news  a.k.a. the “slow no”  is now old school. Read: How a slow no damages your employer brand

Recruitment specialist Bill Boorman references a talent tipping point which is “the number of connections an organisation needs to reach the point of having all the message points they need to fill all of their future hiring needs.”  This doesn’t have to be formal recruitment contact, but could any other network interaction, including social media. When forums such as Glassdoor gives employees the opportunity to make comments about their experiences, companies are easy to search. See the comments on Shopify.

All of these contribute to a positive candidate experience and expectations, even indirectly.

Opportunity Cost

Many hiring managers don’t understand the real cost to their company of an open assignment and what that means in daily lost revenue, which can be calculated per employee. Unless the open assignment is a cost center role (and even they add some value), then there is direct revenue loss associated with it being open for a lengthy period. With P & L positions such as senior management roles, sales, cash collection, and production, the costs will be even higher.

The recruitment process then becomes part of the company’s marketing process and the pipeline takes on increased significance.

Why is that?

Your recruitment process is marketing

Every candidate who interacts with your organisation has a first hand experience of how you do business and the quality and professionalism of your employees. It’s a bird’s-eye view of the culture. Getting that right, will spill over to your marketing feedback. Although some companies get away with it, especially in  any “cool” sector or function,  great product, crappy company can come back to bite, as we saw with Amazon.

Candidates are your brand evangelists 

If the candidate loves you and your company, even though she was not successful, she will sing your praises. Candidates will forgive rejection, if you treat them with integrity. Think of the companies who have candidates lining up at their doors just to get a chance of joining.

Reaching passive candidates

Top candidates, are busy people. If they are happy in their jobs, they are not active on the job market, casting around for new opportunities. What they do is network strategically to drive traffic to them, especially from the hidden job market. Letting them know they that they are on your radar is good policy, so that when an opening does arise, all it takes is a quick phone call.

Candidates today have increased power and reach

The ability to share information is available with the click of a mouse or the swipe of a Smart Phone. The slightest doubt shared by any candidate in his/her network, is likely to be seen by more people than the recipient.

Recruitment develops relationships

A transparent process, conducted correctly, creates long-term relationships for your talent pipeline. If the candidate is not on target this time, perhaps it will work in the future. If they are not right at all, maybe they can refer you to someone in their network.

Reject with empathy

No one likes to be cut from a job search process, especially if they are almost “at the altar.”  How this is handled will be their last memory of you and your company. Make sure it’s a positive one.

You would be surprised how many hiring managers do not know the basic maths underlying their own processes. Do you?

If your company needs to strengthen its talent pipeline contact DDTM Now

The Jeremy Clarkson lesson for HR & the talent pipeline

Abuse has no place in any environment, but especially a professional one. This includes physical violence against individuals or property, or even feigned or threatened violence. Nor should there be any verbal abuse, yelling, swearing or humiliation of any kind related to race, appearance, nationality and anything else you can think of, that would make someone feel demeaned. Add to that “no go” list,  emotional abuse or intimidation.

But nor should there be any defence. It’s simply not O.K.

When divos are dangerous

So it’s not that the British divo Jeremy Clarkson has made international headlines – again.  That doesn’t shock me. It was inevitable.  It’s the national petition to defend him that leaves me perplexed.

If organisations turn blind eyes, make excuses or create work around systems to accommodate the unacceptable, or even illegal behaviour of individuals who are otherwise valuable, they have a work place crisis in the making. It may not happen immediately – but it will sooner or later.

This applies whether it’s the diva or divo sales person, the mover, shaker, fixer, financial whizz kid, deal maker, sales closer, or the star presenter of a multi-million pound earner car show on the B.B.C.

Their remorse, regret and superficial apologies will become increasingly hollow as they make no real effort to modify their behaviour. Weak excuses will be made about pressure and extenuating circumstances offered. A war zone or A & E is pressure. If  they are serious organisational cash cows they will come to believe they are untouchable.

Situations will probably not be reached where national petitions are raised to protect the average super star employee, but the idea of what is acceptable will seep into corporate and therefore wider culture. They eventually become negative role models.

And then they will do something which crosses everyone’s line.

Talent pipeline

The fact is, no one is irreplaceable or indispensable. There should be succession plans for all employees and Plan Bs for key personnel. They could get sick (or die) or just lose the plot like Jeremy Clarkson. If the media is to be believed, well-adjusted people don’t abuse people over a plate of cold cuts. Or they may be poached, simply leave, want to retire or take a gap year.

The financial success of one organisation can’t be centred or reliant on one of anything, whether client, product, or person. But above all it is never O.K. for anyone to abuse anyone in the office. No matter how popular or valuable they are.

There is one good thing about the Jeremy Clarkson lesson. It should have all organisations rushing to examine  their succession plans and committing to improving their talent pipelines.

They should be starting to understand the power of one is potentially dangerous for all.

Unconscious bias dries up the tech talent pipeline

At a dinner party last week I was asked by a yummy mummy, what field should she encourage her daughter to go into and what academic choices would I advise she make? The kid is 8.  Now my first instinctive reaction was that this was more than a little over the top.

The poor girl should become whatever she would like to be …. right? In line with her talents and passions …

Or maybe not.

How do you know what you are good at or passionate about if you have no knowledge or experience of it?

I have recently been invited to be a VIP Blogger at the HR Tech Conference in London in March.  I tick many of the boxes: I blog, I know about HR, but in many ways I’m not technically minded.  I dropped maths and science as early as I could in school. Yet, I am above average intelligence (really), generally quick to pick things up, was a strong student and the only person in a recent Executive MBA class who could explain Pythagoras’ Theorem.

So what happened?  Rewind to home and school.

Unconscious bias

Back in the day science was for boys. We had no data then to tell us how we were being channelled, even unconsciously and even less idea if it mattered. I studied Social Sciences, breaking the curve for the time, because back then it wasn’t a “girly” subject,  with women students being out numbered probably 5:1.  At that time it was a gateway qualification for women into business and industry.

But both my brothers took straight science. They were also taught to play golf. I wasn’t.

Drought in the female talent pool

We live in an era where organisations are trying to deal with critical hard and even soft skill deficits. Companies are looking internationally for computer scientists and engineers, many of whom now come from overseas. Almost 30% of US engineers are born outside the US. Yet  although 60% of European and US graduates are women, they are not selecting these subjects with only 20% of technical and engineering graduates being women. In the UK only 6%of engineering jobs are held by women.

So even today, many years later, knowing what we know now, nothing much has changed. The tech fields, still struggle to attract women, with men dominating those industries and functions, whether home-grown or imported. Even the workforces of forward thinking companies such as Google are only 30% female. Women are continuing to move into careers with a soft skill focus (pink functions) or so-called caring professions and the gap continues to widen.

Gender balance

There are simply too few women to attract. Organisations have missed the boat. The reality is combating stereotyping and gender balance starts while the workplace is a twinkle in a pushy mother’s eye.

I have met a few women who took science qualifications in later life, but generally in my experience, the trend has been in the other direction. 40% of women for example leave engineering reducing the talent pool even further. Egg freezing benefits fail to address the real issues and come far too late in the talent pipeline process.

So good for the pushy mother at the dinner party. Not so much pushy, as savvy and strategic.

Identifying effective opportunities to deal with these challenges is complex, involving paradigm shifts in thinking in many areas of our society. All are integrated and almost inseparable. It will inevitably involve creating effective gender balance policies to make any dent on our unconscious bias riddled culture:

  • To parents: encourage sons and daughters to explore all sides of their intelligence and discourage a split into girly subjects and activities, separating them from those for boys
  • To education authorities: making science compulsory to a reasonably senior level,  also gender neutral and fun. In some educational systems high school graduation is impossible without maths, a science, as well as arts subjects.
  • To the media and tech companies themselves: Kill the mad, reclusive, on-the – spectrum, scientist stereotype. Make science cool and sexy, not geeky. Create characters for movies, cartoons and games that show that women can be scientists and engineers, without being unfeminine. Not forgetting boys can be caring, without jeopardising their masculinity.
  • To organisations:  make women employees highly visible. Give them and make them mentors. Send them to schools as ambassadors and make sure they are on stage as conference speakers internally and externally especially when talking about diversity. Create return-ships for women who have taken parenting leave, so that they stay with their companies, rather than deferring having children. Someone still has to take that child to the dentist.  

Of the 9 new jobs anticipated for 2030 – how many require tech skills?

I predict a good profile for the future will be a  technical subject (of some yet to be created discipline, which we currently know nothing about) languages (no, not everyone will prefer to speak English) and business training.

Only time will tell if I am right!

5 types of senior women who don’t care about the talent pipeline

Why should we expect women at the top to care?

Why should we expect women at the top to care?

Over recent years we have seen untold column inches and broadcasting minutes given over to the lack of women at a senior level in almost all organizations. But organizations are pyramids and the number of openings at the top of the pile is limited, leaving competition tight for men and women alike.

Only 18 women running Fortune 500 companies, 3.4% of the roles and only a further 19 head up the Fortune 1000 to reach the giddy heights of 3.8% of roles. This overall and much publicized discrepancy suggests an abysmally poor number in relation to the other 48% of women in the workplace.
So why are we so pre-occupied with these numbers?

According to Ilene H. Lang, President of Catalyst “Women in corporate leadership can also send a critical message to people entering the workforce. Women leaders are role models to early and mid-career women and, simply by being there at the top, encourage pipeline women to aspire to senior positions. They see that their skills will be valued and rewarded”.

Messages

But what happens when these senior women are not interested in the women in the pipeline? How do we evaluate the impact of that particular critical message on their juniors? Not all women who reach those elevated heights are treated correctly just because they are senior. We saw this very clearly last year with Virginia Rometty being excluded from the Augusta Golf Club. Nor are they necessarily interested in taking a stance either for women in the pipeline or crusading for women in general, just because of shared gender.

Look at Marissa Meyer. Back at the office before we could say “post partem” after the birth of her baby and now cutting tele-commuting at Yahoo. Many women are dependent on the benefits of workplace flexibility and will be seriously dismayed at this development. But Meyer is there to get Yahoo back in the game and gender repercussions are not on her agenda. Besides she has her own private nursery in the C-Suite which is her own work/flex benefit.

So truthfully, gender balance changes can be introduced just as successfully by men, as they can be catastrophically up-ended by women.  I can’t help but wonder why we focus so much energy on women achieving these point positions. Could it be that this energy is mis-directed and more focus is needed for the women in the metaphoric trenches?

At the risk of seeming frivolous I’ve identified profiles of women at the top who don’t  seem to care about the women below them.

  • Alpha bitches: these women, not through any particular ill-will, just think that women need to suck it up and get on with it and believe the contribution they make trail blazing and paving the way for others is sufficient on its own. They believe the women below them should be grateful. Their modus operandi is “step up or shut up”. They are just simply not interested in what goes on in the ranks in gender terms. Men or women just need to get the job done. End of!
  •  Business first brigade: these women are corporate bodies to their cores and although they may champion gender balance policies, this is only if they don’t interfere with bottom line imperatives. Virginia Rometty, turned the other cheek (even joked about it) when she was snubbed by the Augusta Golf Club in April 2012. IBM’s overall business interests seem to come before striking a blow for women, or even presenting the mildest reaction to a very public slight. If she made any comment then I have not seen it. Was she taking a hit for the team? Possibly. But then she was appointed Chairman in October 2012. So we’ll never know if it was vested personal interest or corporate acumen!
  • Men in Skirts: these women are the only women in the room and are OK that way. Unlike the alpha bitches, they are pretty oblivious to their female colleagues and have been completely absorbed and accepted into male corporate culture. They don’t feel they have done anything special because of their gender. They are not averse to other women being there as long as they fit in.
  •  Mascara Mafia: they are at the top of the pile and like it there. They have clawed their way to the top with their French manicures and are not letting anyone else in. Unlike the Men in Skirts they enjoy being in the minority and actively want to protect their patch.  This is the famously quoted “Queen Bee Syndrome.”  Dr. Sharon Eden British psychologist told me this is rooted, even today, in women being genetically hardwired for child-bearing reasons to keep the best men for themselves. It’s old fashioned protection of the species! In a 21st century corporate environment the “best men” are found at the top of the organogram.
  • Genuinely Oblivious Gang : they have never encountered any gender issues in their own careers, they are completely mystified and have no idea what all the fuss is about. A sort of raised global eyebrow “que?” or “quoi?” about it all. “What gender issues?” they ask. “So 1970s!  Hasn’t that  all been taken care of?”

So are the demands we make on our women leaders to expect them to care about the women coming through the ranks simply unrealistic? Is this another reason to let them get on with it and shift our focus to the pipeline?

What do you think?