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What women really want in business – will you please complete our 4-minute poll?

Could you please give me 4 minutes of your time?  I’d really appreciate it because I need at least 250 businesswomen to complete a quick poll on their experiences… I launched this poll last week when I voiced my opinion about targets and quotas and before you say “not another survey!”, I promise you that this one is different.  And important.  Really.  Click here to access the poll, or if you’re not yet convinced read on to find out why this is important…

If you could also forward this email to your friends and colleagues, and ask them to complete the poll as well, I’ll be ever so grateful.  And as a bonus every pollster will go in the running for a gorgeous Ere Perez natural cosmetics prize pack.

Now I promise this poll will only take 4 minutes to complete – three if you’re really quick with your keyboard skills!  What I’m asking you to answer with a click of your mouse is what motivates you, whether you’re satisfied with your career achievements to date and whether you support the use of initiatives to increase female representation in our leadership ranks.

So why is this important?

As you know, last year’s EOWA Census of Women in Leadership showed that Australia is going backwards in our female representation in executive ranks.  Women hold only 10.7% of all executive positions and I think this is partly because big business doesn’t understand what women want.

At the launch of the EOWA Census results, I asked the keynote speaker Mike Smith, CEO of ANZ Bank, what his company was doing to  understood what women really want from their career.  I put it to Smith that if organisations really understood this, and then offered roles and benefits that delivered to this, it would be easier to attract more women into the top jobs.  Smith suggested that women want the same thing as men: they want to be successful and they aspire to the top job as much as their male peers.  But I’m not sure that’s so.

Firstly I suspect that women measure success in different ways to men.  I suspect they’re driven less by the number of rungs they are from the CEO on the corporate ladder, and more by achieving quality outcomes in various areas of life: relationships, personal interests and career achievement ranking equally for many.

Secondlly I know anecdotally that women are harder on themselves than men, and that for many, “ambition” is a dirty word.  Men and women have a different take on ambition, and many women experience guilt along with the desire to pursue career ambitions.   So we can’t assume that one size fits all when it comes to motivating men and women into top jobs.

Finally I think there are many personal barriers for women in moving through the ranks that are invisible to men.  There’s the obvious one relating to child care and increasingly elder care, but also the psychology of the minority that women must overcome as their become more and more outnumbered in senior ranks.  Sometimes it feels like your constantly pushing your barrow up hill when you’re the only woman around the meeting table – and after a while this gets really, really tiring.  

I wonder how many men you’ve worked with have even experienced being the only man on a table full of women – day in day out – in their role.  I suspect this would be a very rare experience indeed.

Our belief systems are impacted by what we know and what we experience – and because 9 out of 10  senior executives in Australia are not women and haven’t had the same experiences along their career journey as women, it’s no wonder the policies they put in place simply don’t hit the mark for us. We’re still learning what would make a difference for women in the workplace, and this learning process is making a difference but we can’t afford to take decades to achieve a quantum leap.

Which brings me back to the poll…. As a CPA I know the importance of numbers for decision making and by giving me just 4 minutes of your time to complete the poll I’ll have some real data about what women really want to use with lobbying our companies and decision makers to support the advancement of women.  

So click here to access the poll… and thanks in advance for taking the time.

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