Tag Archives: work-life balance

Career Advancement as Contest – Tournament and How to Win

Olivia Mandy O'Neill

Olivia Mandy O’Neill

If you work in an organization, you gave tacit agreement to participate in a Workplace Tournament, according to (Olivia) Mandy O’Neill of Wharton and Charles O’Reilly of Stanford.
They contend that careers unfold as a series of tournaments in which employees at lower levels compete with each other for career advancement.

Charles O'Reilly

Charles O’Reilly

The prevalence of implicit workplace contests was validated in O’Reilly’s study of executive pay with University of Edinburgh’s Brian G M Main and James Wade, now of Emory University.

Brian G.M. Main

Brian G.M. Main

“Winners” in the contest for advancement shared two characteristics in O’Neill and O’Reilly’s study MBA graduates’ incomes over an eight-year period.

James Wade

James Wade

Those with highest incomes four years after graduation said they preferred “masculine” organizational culture, and this relationship was stronger for women than men.

Eight years after graduation, men’s salaries were significantly higher than women’s, attributable to the greater number of hours men worked per week.
During this period, many women MBA graduates took time off or reduced the number of hours work to care for relatives, reducing the average number of hours worked.

One non-MBA mother whose income did not suffer is Marissa Mayer, former CEO of Yahoo.
In 2012, she took two weeks for parental leave, and her total compensation for the year was USD $36.6 Million.

Phyllis Tharenou

Phyllis Tharenou

Organizational hierarchies dominated by men were preferred by high-earners, and were associated with women advancing less frequently into lower and middle management, according to Phyllis Tharenou, now of Flinders University.

Employees with managerial aspirations and masculine preferences were more likely to advance in management roles, she found.
However, these effects were offset by “career encouragement” such as mentoring and structured career development programs.

Denise Conroy

Denise Conroy

With Denise Conroy of Queensland Technology University, Tharenou studied more than 600 female managers and 600 male managers across six organizational levels.
Women’s and men’s advancement was most closely correlated with workplace development opportunities and organizational structure, suggesting that structural, policy and program changes can increase the number of women in top leadership roles.

Women tend to excel in explicit workplace contests, such as in public sector jobs.
In contrast, women have less experience capitalizing on organizational “sponsorship” by advocates for their advancement.
Taken together, these studies suggest that women can improve opportunities for advancement by:

  • Recognizing that advancement is a tournament,
  • Behaving as a strategic competitor,
  • Communicating interest in advancement,
  • Seeking employment in organizations with formal career advancement programs, mentoring, and development training,
  • Seeking employment in organizations that support flexible work practices and use technology to enable employees to work “anytime, anywhere,”
  • Becoming comfortable operating in “masculine” organizations,
  • Identifying social support inside organizations,
  • Seeking and cultivating advocates and sponsors.-*How do you manage workplace “tournaments” for career advancement?

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What Do (Executive) Women (and Men) Want? Accenture Uncovers Priorities

Martha Bernays Freud-Sigmund Freud

Martha Bernays Freud-Sigmund Freud

Accenture’s online survey of 4,100 business executive women and men born between 1946 and 1994 from medium to large organizations across 33 countries sought to answer the updated version of Sigmund Freud’s question: “What do women want?”

Conducted in November 2012, the survey’s margin of error is +/-2 percent, with at least 100 respondents from each country, except Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden where the combined number totaled 200.

It provides some answers:  Women’s – and men’s top priorities in defining career success are:

  • Work-life balance
  • Money
  • Recognition
  • Autonomy
Frederick Herzberg

Frederick Herzberg

This finding contradicts Frederick Herzberg’s theory that people are less motivated by “hygiene factors” like work-life balance and money than “motivation factors” like recognition and autonomy.

In contrast to Yahoo’s much-publicized ban on working remotely, 80 percent of male and female respondents reported that having flexibility in their work schedule is extremely or very important to work-life balance and more than three-quarters (78 percent) agree technology enables them to be more flexible with their schedules.

This is an important value statement in light of landmark findings that lack of flexibility and control in work environments has been associated with poorer health indicators and status than roles with greater flexibility

Hannah Kuper

Hannah Kuper

Hannah Kuper and Michael Marmot of University College London analyzed health outcomes of British civil service workers in the Whitehall I and II studies and found employees with least control over their work lives, typically associated with lower employment grade and lower social class, consistently had the poorest well-being and the highest mortality rates.

Michael Marmot

Michael Marmot

Marmot with other researchers who analyzed Whitehall study data, including Geoffrey Rose, surmise that not having discretion over how a task is accomplished, underutilizing skills, lack of clarity and predictability in job role can lead to job stress and physical indicators like abnormal heart rate and blood pressure, increased blood cortisol.

Erin Kelly

Erin Kelly

Phyllis Moen

Phyllis Moen

More than half of all respondents said they declined a job due to concerns about its impact on work-life balance, also reported by Erin Kelly and Phyllis Moen of University of Minnesota, suggesting that Yahoo’s policy could lead to significant attrition over time.

To realize monetary goals, the majority of respondents – 49 percent of women and 57 percent of men – had asked for or negotiated a pay raise, and four out of five respondents who negotiated a pay raise received one.

These rates represent a substantial increase over the year before in which 44 percent of women and 48 percent of men reported asking for a pay increase.
Notably, the percentage of men requesting more money increased considerably more than the percentage of women in that year period.

Linda Babcock

Linda Babcock

This result is more encouraging than Linda Babcock’s finding that women tend not to ask for raises, and tend not to receive them when they do ask.

Sheryl Sandberg

Sheryl Sandberg

Even Sheryl Sandberg wasn’t inclined to negotiate for her salary when offered the role as COO of Facebook until she forcefully urged by her husband and brother-in-law, she revealed on 60 Minutes while promoting Lean In.

The Accenture study may demonstrate a changing trend for the better:  Almost half of all respondents reported that they had asked for a promotion, suggesting greater willingness to advocate for themselves to achieve the second priority, monetary reward.

-*How well do Accenture’s findings reflect your career priorities?

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Women Hedge Fund Managers Outperform Male Counterparts

Meredith Jones

Meredith Jones

Meredith Jones of Rothstein Kass, reported  that female hedge fund managers significantly outperform their male counterparts in Women in Alternative Investments: Building Momentum in 2013 and Beyond .
In the third quarter of 2012, women scored a net return of 8.95% compared to a 2.69% net return overall on the HFRX Global Hedge Fund Index.

Given women’s superior contribution to profitability, they would seem qualified for leadership roles in organizations seeking to maximize financial returns.
However, women hold fewer than 20% of top jobs in “alternate investment” organizations, according to 366 senior women in hedge funds, private equity, and venture capital.

Respondents attribute this low representation of women in executive roles to:

  • Low interest in remaining in this “alternate investment” sector due to limited opportunities for work-life balance.
    More than 18% of respondents said they wanted to work part-time or flex-time.
  • Few positions available for skilled women to establish a strong performance record.

Similar issues were discussed in Women’s Post-Business School Work-Life Issues .

Jones of Rothstein Kass suggested that some of women’s effectiveness is based on their greater patience and risk-averseness so they are “…potentially better able to escape market downturns and volatility.”

She continued, “…if women do in fact have a different, more risk-averse investing profile, then at least theoretically, their returns, particularly in difficult markets, should be higher than those of their male counterparts.”  

Kelly Easterling

Kelly Easterling

Kelly Easterling and Camille Asaro, also of Rothstein Kass, contributed to the report, which found women’s assessment of their most important professional assets:

  • Professional networks
  • Strong personal and support networks
  • Strategic career planning
  • Willingness to take considered risks
Jean Brittingham

Jean Brittingham

Jean Brittingham of The Smart Girls Way posited additional correlates of women’s effective financial performance:

  • Systems-thinking skills
  • Seeking balance between work and life
  • Caring more about solutions than who gets credit
  • Strong collaboration competencies
  • Persistence when “passionate about something”
Camille Asaro

Camille Asaro

The Rothstein Kass report noted that some U.S. states have mandates for diversity in their asset management firms, and observed an increase in state public pension plans with stated or implied preference for women-owned investment managers.

-*In which industries have you observed women delivering equal or better results than male counterparts?

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