Ask for More

From Cath Nolan:

There’s sense among many women that we’re getting a bit of a raw deal when it comes to workload and income. Research shows consistently that women do more work in the home (2.9 vs 5.2 hours) and get paid less in the office (24% of total remuneration).

Of course most men aren’t purposefully setting out to get the upper hand… although for anyone with a competitive streak that’s a necessary factor- male or female. The big question for me, is how can women get a little more of that competitive spirit without feeling dirty?

Let’s tackle the ‘paid less’ issue.

I’ve asked Kelly Magowan, author of The Busy Women’s Guide to Salary Negotiation to join us for a free Webinar in a few weeks, for our subscribers. You can access that HERE.

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Meanwhile, here are my top tips for increasing your competitive urge so you feel ready to take on that conversation.

  1. Be Prepared. First know what you want. Then know your market worth and pitch that rather than how committed you are. If your conversation is all “I deserve” you’l come across and whiny and frankly uncompelling. Kelly offers 7 steps to Salary Negotiation in this article – a few of them are the what-exactly of Being Prepared.
  2. Be Confident. Take stock of all your achievements. Not so you can list them off when you’re sitting down with the boss necessarily, but so you feel better about your abilities. Creatively the market knowledge you’ll get from Kelly’s preparation tips will help with this big time too.
  3. Use Science. You can manipulate your hormones to induce that feeling of competitive drive. By increasing your testosterone (the risk-taking hormone) and decreasing your cortisol (the stress hormone), you’ll be statistically more likely to have that tough conversation.

If you haven’t yet heard Amy Cuddy’s TED talk, How Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are – now’s the time to tune in. If you have heard it, watch it again and share it. Which power pose works best for you? And when will you apply it? Before the big meeting, or will you ALSO use it as you’re preparing?

I’ve heard many disgruntled employees complain that “I’m overlooked”  or “I didn’t get a raise / promotion / support for training I wanted”. When I delve further, they’ve not actually asked for these things that they want.  Exit surveys are filled with evidence that people leave businesses thinking that what they want isn’t available… even though it really is available. Wasted opportunities.

Don’t leave money on the table. Or opportunity or flexibility or whatever it is that’s important to you. Others are asking and receiving. Why not you?

Gear up your confidence and gather your data, be clear about what you want then Ask For It!

You never know, the same strategies that work to get you more income might even work to buy you more equity in the household care department too 🙂

Want to strategise that conversation? Join us for Kelly Magowan’s Webinar and take the opportunity to have your questions answered by the guru.

Cath Nolan

An executive coach and our CEO here at Gender Gap Gone, Cath is renowned for her expertise in individual and organisational development. With over 16 years experience consulting to over 500 businesses globally in this space, Cath has coached over 300 individuals and worked with some of Australia’s best loved and most recognised brands.

Cath is a frequent key note speaker nationally, invited to share the stage with leaders of industry on Leadership and Career Advantage, particularly for women and diversity groups.

Want to hear more strategies for good leadership, diversity and career leverage? Subscribe here for the latest on our programs, free resources and articles.

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Development. Who Pays? Who Wins?

From Cath Nolan, our CEO

It’s interesting. When I’m looking at résumés and asking what people have achieved, they’ll often list things that they’ve achieved personally, rather than things they’ve achieved for the business. Alternatively, they’ll list their responsibilities. That’s not an achievement, that’s doing your job.

Your work achievements are the projects or initiatives that you undertook above and beyond the expectations of your role. It’s blitzing your KPIs or creating new systems or bringing a project in on budget and on time under very difficult circumstances. Completing a course is not an achievement. It’s a benefit to you. Okay, of course all of your achievements are a benefit to your career.

But when it comes to our achievements most of us really have to be drawn to uncover what we’ve accomplished. We’re too busy getting on with doing the job to stop and evaluate our performance.

TAKE STOCK

Please, may I encourage you to take stock? It’s only by doing so that you can evaluate your actions & adjust your course. Do it regularly & make it a priority. It doesn’t have to be a frequent activity, but certainly every 6 months is just plain sensible.

Your job pays you most of your income, right? So isn’t it then a good idea to be reflecting with some level of determination on how your career investment is performing?

Some questions you can ask to ‘take stock’:

  1. What’s important to me and how does this role deliver to that?
  2. How well have I performed against outlined expectations?
  3. What general direction would I like to move toward and what skills have I collected in the last 6 months that will be of benefit?
  4. What strengths am I most proud of and how much have I been able to flex those / leverage those / pass those skills on?
  5. What is important to this business / team / boss? How do my values align?
  6. What can I say that I have achieved for the business in the last 6 months and what would I LIKE to be able to say I’ve achieved over the next 6?

WHAT DOES YOUR CAREER INVESTMENT RETURN TO YOU?

We’re talking here about your time investment. The answer is highly personal.

What drives you? Are you motivated by money or association or work-life balance? Do you crave challenges and learning opportunities or thrive in a work-hard play-hard environment? Perhaps you loathe that idea and would prefer to spend your time in the pursuit of the greater good for all humanity?

You might choose to gear your career toward immediate returns (big bucks, flexibility or brilliant holiday perks), or you may be working toward a more long-term pay off (traditional role in a conservative organisation with a clear path to progression and more moderate short benefits).

There are times that you will make what feels like a career sacrifice, taking a role that sits outside your values or imposes a compromise on what you’d really prefer. That’s ok if it’s a considered choice. If you determine that you’re willing to forego X for a defined period of time or a specific purpose, then you will be empowered enough to make it work.

On the flip side, take a role that imposes a compromise without real clarity on what’s important to you and you will be miserable for the duration.

Of course it’s not always your choice. Most of us have at some time had the perfect job lose its lustre with a change in corporate direction or a new boss. If you’re unclear about what’s important to you that can be really tough. With clarity though, you can better navigate and certainly better negotiate. Your stay-or-go decision will be much better informed.

Your career SHOULD allow you to meet your financial commitments, aligned with your values and help you accrue the skills you need for your next step and the one beyond.

If you’re building toward the next role and the one beyond, your current boss is unlikely to benefit, right? So why do so many of us submit our entire development plans to the actions of our immediate boss?

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If the financial return is all for you, what’s holding you back? Find a good solution for moving you forward and get your money working for you! You already invest A LOT in your career. Why wouldn’t you maximise that when you can?

WHAT DEVELOPMENT SHOULD YOU INVEST IN?

Know where you’re heading. Investigate the options for development and up-skilling.

You’re going to apply the same scrutiny that your boss would, only you’ll be evaluating the benefits against your bigger-picture plan not just your current role.

Questions for determining whether you should invest:

  1. What sort of return are you expecting from this development?
  2. How would you categorise the investment: is it a piece of technical expertise you’re looking to acquire or something more related to personal management / people management or business management?
  3. How will you evaluate the likely return?
  4. How will you determine if this development expense can benefit your potential future paths?
  5. Who can you speak with that has the insight or experience to add value?

WHO SHOULD DO THE INVESTING?

Of course it’s in an employer’s best interests to offer you targeted development opportunities. However, it may not be in your immediate boss’ best interests! After all, by doing a great job right where you are you’re saving them a whole lot of pain.

Your boss will be motivated to foot the development bill if you can demonstrate a likely improvement to your performance in your current role. Your employer will be motivated if it will prepare you for future roles and boost their leadership pipeline

This might seem obvious, but separating out ‘who benefits’, will help you to decide who’s likely to be prepared to pay for the course you want to do or the membership fees you want covered.

Feed this information into your planning when you’re determining how to pitch to the boss to get them to pay for that upcoming course. Keep “what’s in it for them” at the front of your mind – and the front and end of your argument.

Let’s say you decide there’s not much in it for the boss’s benefit. If you’re a high performer that should not stop you from asking – for time to study at the very least.

Don’t see yourself as a high performer? Go back to the first point. Schedule some diary time and a positive space with perhaps some affirmations to put you in a positive frame of mind. Then take stock! Evaluate what you’ve achieved. If you can’t name anything you should put plans together for what you’re going to achieve in the next 6 months so you can improve your position.

WHAT DEVELOPMENT SHOULD YOU SEEK?

There is no one who will be as proactive in determining your future direction as you can be. No one knows you better, your unique skills and interests, your pet hates and the secret yearning you’ve always had to be a … fire fighter? Jet pilot? Writer?

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The development path you take will be determined entirely by your direction. Even if your career has been a zig-zag, with effective narrative you’ll be able to weave the common ground through it. With that narrative you can plan the best development options to springboard you to the next tie-it-all-together opportunity.

Not sure what development you could do with, or even where you might be headed? Check out our Career Empowerment Program.

Career Empowerment provides online access to resources for identifying career direction, closing gaps and leveraging strengths, building effective networks, self-promotion and setting and achieving career goals. And a bunch more! Gender Gap Gone Members also receive free monthly content webinars and access to the closed community forum for impartial advice, inspiration and encouragement on their career journeys.

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Cath Nolan is CEO & Founder of Gender Gap Gone. A corporate coach and key note speaker, Cath has 15 years experience in organisational and individual development.

Before You Negotiate A Pay Rise…

The Gender Pay Gap for Australian women is irrefutable. But what is it for individual women? How does any employee understand what they should be paid? In truth, most people don’t know how to evaluate their worth objectively, which leaves them to negotiate (or not) based on what they feel they are worth.

The Gender Pay Gap is currently 18.8% in Australia. The implications are as complex as the contributing factors. One of those implications is that as women, when we don’t know our market value we can assume that we’re being underpaid. Sure it’s statistically possible: but without credible evidence it becomes very personal. You risk feeling undervalued and disengaged and your employer risks feeling bullied.

‘One confronting challenge in determining your salary is that it’s more about what the job is worth than it is about what you’re worth.’

And?

Well if money is very important to you, you should target industries and roles that pay handsomely. If you’re moving from financial services to aged care for instance, you should expect a dip in pay.

KNOW WHAT THE MARKET IS PAYING

This one is the most obvious. You could speak with a niche recruiter. Be sure it’s someone who knows their market well, rather than a ‘flick and stick’ transient recruiter who covers all roles and all industries. An experienced niche recruiter will be able to share insight into the salary range you can expect for your job type. This is generally going to be industry specific and affected by location.

The implied advice here is to nurture your relationships with good recruiters!

Recognise that there should be a win-win: you may need them to recruit for you or find your next role and they can provide you with excellent market intelligence.

recruiters

If you don’t know the credible recruiters in your market, find them. It’s an investment. Like a shortcut? Consult the Hays Salary Survey. The beauty of this annual document is that it’s divided by industry, by level of role and by location.

You’re not looking for an absolute dollar figure here, you’re looking for a salary range. If you’re being paid above the range, consider whether your job title could do with adjustment.

Some time on Google will fairly quickly uncover job descriptions for any role. Feed this information back into your salary enquiries.

KNOW WHERE YOUR SKILLS SIT WITHIN THE MARKET

Recruiters can help with this too, but you’ll need to be able to articulate what you do for them to translate that to a market value.

Recognise the difference between responsibilities and achievements. Achievements are generally things that you did that sit above and beyond the normal expectations of your role. Perhaps you’re responsible for executing a certain task but you additionally created processes that wiped 3 days per month from that task. You can calculate the dollar value of your initiative there.

Or perhaps you overachieved your KPIs by 15% … quantify it. Quantifying your achievements is the factor that helps to determine whether you are an average performer or above average. If you can demonstrate that your performance adds value above organisational expectations, then you’re in a good position to convince that your skills sit at the top end of the market’s salary range.

Performance appraisals have a good deal of benefit for you, right? For many they’re the only time (outside of job transition) that they reflect on what they’re achieved. It’s an excellent opportunity to take stock of what you’ve achieved and to make it known.

ARE YOU EASLIY REPLACEABLE?

Are there lots of you or are your skills in high demand?

If a couple of major competitors have recently moved operations off-shore leaving dozens of highly active job seekers with your skills, you’ll have to work harder to prove you deserve a pay rise.

If the four closest competitors are actively making you job offers on a weekly basis because there are so few people with your skills: clearly you’re in a good position to negotiate.

NOT ALL NEGOTIATORS ARE EQUAL

Not all highly competent people are recognised as highly competent. Not all highly regarded employees are competent!

For sustained credibility across roles, it’s essential that you have the magical mix of competence and the ability to be heard. It’s the 2-part success formula of Executive Presence.

Executive Presence

Be really good at your job and gather evidence as you go. Gather skills along the way in communication, confidence and people management that you can apply to peers, influencers and leaders within the business. ‘Managing Up’ is as critical as managing your team.

These are all skills that are essential for effective leadership: the sooner in your career you can get them working for you, the greater your career trajectory will be.

IT’S NOT PERSONAL

I’ve heard a LOT of employees say that they’re underpaid, that they do more hours than is reasonable and deserve to be rewarded for it. Long hours is a generally a separate issue to your salary. Let’s assume here that the long hours are not related to poor productivity or a lack of training in particular skills.

If your hours are long and that doesn’t suit you, you should negotiate workload or delegation options.

“I can see how XXX is an important priority. Let me walk you through the other responsibilities I’m carrying right now and you can tell me which is less important. Alternatively, if they’re equally important we can discuss resourcing.”

Alternatively, decide that you’re prepared to do it for a defined period of time. Be vocal and get agreement on that definition.

Perhaps you’re seeking a pay rise as a reward for a hard slog on a particular project. Remember that your salary will reflect what your job is worth, so if you’re taking on a project that is going to demand a higher level of responsibility and extra hours for a period of time, you should negotiate upfront. Agree to KPIs and expectations and get written agreement on the reward for effort and/or outcomes.

EXUDING OBJECTIVITY

We’ve talked about how to find the data, but how do you clear the emotion from what can feel like a very personal conversation? The most reliable solution is to go outside yourself: speak with a mentor or coach. Being prepared with data is incredibly helpful.

Be clear about your expectations and don’t bring personal circumstances into the conversation. This is not the time to mention the favoured holiday destination or kid’s school fees!

“The industry norm for this role is between C and G. I’m being paid D, which is at the bottom end of that range, however my performance reviews, KPIs and customer reviews confirm that my performance is much closer to the top end of that range. I would like you to review my salary.

What information can I provide you to make that easier? What timeframe should I expect for your decision?”

GETTING THE UPPER HAND IN SALARY NEGOTIATIONS

  1. Take stock. Many people don’t reflect on their achievements until they need to change jobs and are subject to situational insecurity.
  2. Know what your skills are worth in the market.
  3. Know how critical your role is to the organisation.
  4. Get your timing right (don’t approach a negotiation the day before a major product launch or catastrophe when all eyes are focused elsewhere)
  5. Be objective. There should be no “I feel I deserve…” involved.
  6. Be confident. Our earlier blog with tips from The Confidence Coach Lisa Phillips can be helpful
  7. Be good at what you do! And be able to talk about it. Nobody will be as aware of your capabilities as you are- they have their eyes on their own stuff.
  8. No business will pay you more than they have to. You’re an employee not a charity recipient. If you want to be paid more money, you need to be able to justify it.

THE RISK OF NOT KNOWING

Particularly for women when gender pay inequity is so prevalent in the media, it can be a quick assumption that our individual circumstances warrant a better deal.

I would encourage you to NOT assume. Instead, be empowered to uncover the facts for your circumstances. Gather your evidence and find a mentor or coach who will give you an objective ear, not just agree with you!

If it turns out you are being paid less than the market for your level of skill in the role you’re doing, be smart about putting your case forward. Be prepared and be confident.

Know how important it is it you. Be prepared for a ‘No’: there may be other circumstances going on that you’re not aware of. If your negotiation is met with a no, what’s your Plan B?

Having an alternative will be empowering and will help remove some of the emotion from your negotiations.

Cath Nolan, CEO and Founder of Gender Gap Gone, is an Executive Coach and Key Note Speaker with background in organisational and individual development. With a team of associates Cath launched Gender Gap Gone, enabling organisations to ensure that their diversity goals are translated to a lived reality for all employees and that more women enter and rise through the Leadership Pipeline. With a business model designed to fit around competing priorities, Gender Gap Gone helps more women into the roles of their choosing. Subscribe for  the latest free resources and upcoming Programs, or follow us on Twitter Instagram or Facebook and be inspired to keep your career on your work-day radar.

What’s Missing From Your Leadership ToolKit?

From our MD, Cath Nolan

Despite the individuality of the path to leadership, there is undeniably a central set of skills that need to be acquired if you want to be considered for The Big Chair. At Gender Gap Gone our conversations with aspiring leaders place a great deal of emphasis on Executive Presence. It incorporates credibility and being heard. Success is impossible without both.

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Today I want to talk with you about the capabilities required for credibility. What are the must-have skills for a leadership toolkit? Not all who are great at their job will be selected for promotion. Credibility speaks not only to your area of specialisation, but also to a small number of skills that are big on importance for leadership. Here are the essentials.

CAPABILITIES FOR ALL LEADERS

People Management – Not all of your roles need to at the helm of large teams. Two things are important here. If you’re a large-complex-organisation type of person, then you’ll need to quickly work toward leading large teams if you’re headed for the top. Otherwise the size of team isn’t necessarily the biggest issue. The best people management ability is created in difficult circumstances. Having tough performance conversations with people and equally identifying future starts and helping them rise. Those who master these two people management skills will far outperform the people manager who has always had “lovely teams” with never a conflict to speak of.

Next time you’re dealing with a tricky people management issue, count your lucky stars: you’re having a great, skill-building career day. You don’t lead any people who stretch you? Find a few! Mentoring an employee elsewhere in the organisation is a low-risk, high potential reward scenario if you’re at a loss.

Next time you’re dealing with a tricky people management issue, count your lucky stars: you’re having a great, skill-building career day.

Communication – So you can string a sentence together? You haven’t earned a tick in this box yet. Do you actively communicate with your team? And the one-below team? What about the one-up leaders? Your internal network?

Poor communication is frequently highlighted in exit surveys. Either because the leader (immediate or senior team) hasn’t communicated direction, or because they’re seen as disconnected from the worker bees, or because the workers don’t believe that the organisation can offer them the opportunities that frequently do exist, if only managers were actively engaged in unafraid, two-way conversation with their employees.

You may feel the need to speak more or even to speak less with your team members. I’d like to challenge you to narrow your focus. Improve the quality of questions you ask. Great questions lead to great insight. Without it any talking you do may be missing the mark entirely.

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What can you do, right now, to improve the quality of your questions?

Influence – The ability to influence will help get you into a role and render you far more effective once you’re there. How influential are you? Let’s break it down. Here are three components you can work on.

Preparedness | Communication | Confidence

How do you measure on these? What can you do to stretch yourself on these?

You’re already strong here? Who can you bring along with you?

Strategic Orientation – This one requires an excellent read on your environment. For some it means you’re able to think big and come up with a long-term, broad-based plan. In many organisations though, it means you’re able to follow the boss’ lead and translate a corporate policy into specific, actionable plans. Sometimes a rapidly changing corporate policy!

Here’s a story I’ve been close to on many occasions. An impressive, capable individual takes a “strategic leadership” role within a business claiming to want a new direction, a fresh perspective to reach uncharted heights. The brief is to challenge the status quo. The enthusiastic new leader takes stock, completes some analysis on the organisation, the market, the global trends. Then they deliver their recommendations. The board curls up their collective toes: “We’re not ready for THAT!”

Read your environment. Understand when to introduce innovation in strategy direction and when your input should be confined to (perhaps innovative) approaches to delivering on pre-set strategic plans.

Knowing the difference and investing accordingly will bring a great deal more success and job satisfaction for you.

Financial Acumen – I’ve written about this one before. If you’re heading for a senior role, there is no avoiding the need for sound understanding of the financials. 

You don’t have it? Who can explain it to you? What course can you sign up to?

How will you present it to your boss, so it’s paid for?

You do have it? Who do you know that’s in need of some basic skills in this area and how can you help while limiting your time commitment?

Cross – Functional Awareness – The age of the CEO who started as the accountant and progressed through narrow, financial channels is for the most part very long gone. Many organisations struggle with overly siloed cultures, where divisional leaders have competing KPI’s, competing priorities. Being able to demonstrate partnerships beyond your specialisation is essential for those pursuing leadership progression.

Client Experience – A service orientation is highly favourable at junior levels. At senior levels, it’s important to be able to demonstrate that you’re able to achieve win-win outcomes. That is, you can balance the organisation’s needs with keeping your internal / external client base in a state of advocacy. The more senior the role, the less hands-on your experience will be. Rather, you’ll need to have experience engendering a culture of service, cross-functional interaction, open communication and so on.

WORK TO YOUR STRENGTHS

If you’re a high-achiever you’ll probably be all over this list of potential developmental gaps you can close.

Take a moment to reflect on your strengths. What do you want to be known for? What are you passionate about? What do you want to make a difference in? How can you have an impact on your team /workplace / industry?

Then what experiences might help you get there? Greater exposure? Training to formalise what you naturally do well? Coaching others to also be strong in your areas of expertise or passion, perhaps?

UNIQUE TO YOUR INDUSTRY

Each industry has it’s own unique hurdles: the qualifications or capabilities that are valued highly. If you’re not sure what they are in your space, find a mentor or three, do some research and work it out. The fundamental mistake that many aspiring leaders make at this point is to assume they know. Years in the space can cloud your judgement about what’s around the corner. Emergent businesses are impacting whole industries by doing things differently. Look at Uber and AirBNB. What emerging technologies or emerging business trends globally could be impacting the way your industry operates?

How will you do a check on the market trends affecting your industry?

How can you be prepared for those trends?

BE INNOVATIVE

An MBA may be essential in your market. Or it might not be. If an MBA supports your experience, it’s a big positive. On it’s own it’s not worth much. When undertaking post-graduate studies, be sure that you’re interested in the content and not purely the piece of paper. The paper itself is not a guarantee of success, but if you choose wisely the learning may well be.

Not everyone has the time or resources to allocate to significant leadership programs though.

What alternatives can you consider? Are there leadership programs that interest you, or conferences that broaden your network and introduce you to new concepts?

Yet make no mistake: some paths demand a certain qualification. If that’s you, make it a priority and get it behind you.

OVERCOMING ORGANISATIONAL BARRIERS

We might politely talk about ways to get around the business structures that hinder promotion opportunities. In reality there are women who have navigated that path before you. Others are doing it right now. The female executives I’ve met have these above skills in spades. They are highly respected, highly effective and apparently effortlessly successful.

Understand that you have the power to make it too. Tap into mentors or even Gapgone.com.au resources to help you navigate internal barriers.

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Download the eBook here.

If the skills you have are not recognised by your organisation, find a way to be heard. If they simply don’t value the same behaviours that you do, find a new direction. But perhaps get a second opinion on them first.

If it can be avoided you don’t want to throw away time invested and a brilliant opportunity if it really just comes down to one dodgy boss.

Cath

LeadBravely

Cath Nolan is the MD & Founder at Gender Gap Gone  as well as Director of CN Consulting. An Executive Coach with a strong background in all areas of individual and organisational development, Catherine is passionate about the impact of individual empowerment in seeing the Gender Gap Gone. Subscribe to hear the latest free resources and upcoming programs, or follow us on Instagram / Twitter / Facebook for resources and inspiration.

The Gender Pay Gap and The Hidden Ism

The Gender Pay Gap in Australia is at the highest level since 1994. 18.8% nationally and a whopping 25.7% in Western Australia.

Staggering though these figures are, rather than dwell here I’d like to talk about solutions.

(But if you’d like a breakdown by location, industry, age and expressed inclination to change, the Workplace Gender Equality Agency’s fact sheet is well researched and offers insightful slicing and dicing.

https://www.wgea.gov.au/sites/default/…/Gender_Pay_Gap_Factsheet.pdf

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Policies that encourage female participation are seen by many as the panacea for getting more women into the leadership pipeline.

Progressive organisations of all sizes are likely to have gender policies in place, even if only as part of broader diversity policies. These policies benefit their customers as much as their employment brand. And yet. There is frequently a disconnect between the corporate policy and the lived reality for many employees.

Organisations who offer flexible work arrangements have managers saying “no that can’t be applied in your circumstances” – to both men and women. For the most part these managers are not intent on being mean or enforcing gender inequality. They are simply accustomed to a conservative model and cannot see how a newer arrangement can effectively deliver results.

The policy may be in place, but the culture is yet to adapt. 

Over coming weeks and months I’ll be speaking with business leaders who have managed to normalise flexibility. If systems are just for women, they’ll be VERY slow to take effect- if they do at all. Many of us are uncomfortable with the idea of some getting an advantage based on anything but merit.

Isn’t that what we’re doing, at Gender Gap Gone? Not necessarily.

Sure, we want to give women en masse a competitive advantage, but not a free ride. Our top-down programs are mostly whole or business solutions. That’s about helping organisations to execute their gender agenda – which also means their diversity plans and smart behaviours, more broadly. The core business practices that negatively impact women in the workplace – such as rigid work arrangements, unprofessional behaviours and the hidden ism (more on that shortly) impact the broader workforce and business outputs.

Power to the Individual

At an individual level, career and support programs have long existed to assist an individual’s development and indeed career trajectory if that’s what they choose. The programs are too often coordinated by middle aged white men who do very well selling programs to the middle aged white decision makers in organisations. Please don’t misunderstand me here. There are a number of men in talent management who are indeed offering progressive solutions and critical thought leadership. There are many senior male leaders in talent management whom I consider one or two among my mentors. But they’re a rare find.

There are also a great many solo operator coaches across career and executive coaching. Their solutions are entirely tailored to the individual and they garner excellent engagement with clear ROI for clients. They however lack a united voice to reach the broader community to enact a change en masse.

The Shift In Career Management

In 2012 the talent management market saw a shift taking form. Previously businesses chose to engage talent providers based on the individuals at the helm and long term relationships. From 2012 the uptake rates started to drop dramatically. Pre-2012 the take up rate for external but business-paid career management programs was in the vicinity of 60% (although closer to 90% during the GFC). Post 2012 it’s not uncommon to see 0-10% take up on a traditional career management program, despite it being paid for by the boss.

Why is that?

In the past career management programs were most often offered during role redundancy. Career Management programs certainly soften the impacts of transition. With so many Australians already having experienced a redundancy or 2 or 3, we’re collectively more robust. Yet the vast majority still feel unprepared in both career direction and self-promotion. Why don’t more people take up the traditional programs being offered to them? Employees are too busy to take time out for the traditional delivery models. Online access reigns supreme.

Online career programs do not provide the full effect.

Without a coach, who can help you apply learning to your own circumstances? Who will stretch you to push further than you otherwise would? Who will hold you accountable so that you don’t give in to the distraction of the day to day? One to one coaching is essential in practically applied development action.

An effective 1:1 coach program will always deliver superior results over an online program alone. But if the only options consumer consider are online vs nothing? We’d prefer to deliver an excellent online program that also offers an affordable, easy-access 1:1 solution when and if the consumer is ready.

At Gender Gap Gone our coach model facilitates ease of uptake as well as workplace flexibility for our coaches.

Our coach team is spread across Sydney Melbourne and London. Just as many working women prefer to focus on development outside of work hours, our coaches like to work odd hours too. Many of them are building their own solo enterprises while others juggle Gender Gap Gone with raising families.

The point is that by creating a delivery model that provides flexibility for our coaches, we also deliver in a way that suits our customers.

Well, that’s to say that our research tells us this suits our would-be customers, perhaps I’ll revisit this topic in a blog some months after we launch and officially have customers!

Normalising Flexibility

Skype is a great enabler. Over coming weeks and months you’ll hear about organisations implementing teleworking as one method of normalising flexibility. The software to conduct meetings remotely is readily available and low cost. For many workers this reduces both their hours and the cost of working. How much time would you save each day if you didn’t need to iron, do a somewhat professional hair and makeup job, sit through traffic jams, leave the office to buy lunch and participate in countless water cooler conversations.

There are 2 key potential pitfalls for employees utilising the remote access model. Connectedness and The Water Cooler.

Connectedness is the easier to overcome: ‘gated’ social media is allowing vast global teams to conduct meetings and conversations. IBM is a great example. Employees are able to take ageing parents to appointments/deliver kids to soccer/attend a charity event mid afternoon, then plug back in or attend an online meeting at 7pm.

Widely discussed, our lifestyles have become busier. Flexible workplace practices allow careers to better integrate with our current lifestyle arrangements as well as global business models. Not only are employees more highly engaged, but the average outputs are greater. (Are you looking forward to that blog as much as we are?)

BUSY LIFE SYNDROME

The danger of the water cooler is more subversive and far more risky for women. I’m referring to the casual conversations that happen in stolen moments, between work time, between meetings. Knowledge is often inadvertently shared amid the ‘How was your weekend?’ talk.

These casual conversations go to the very heart of the ‘other ism’. In speaking with business leaders about the Gender Gap and diversity in their organisations, there is a comment I come across repeatedly. “We don’t have to worry about sexism (ageism/racism etc) here, it’s just favouritism.”

STOP! WAIT! Here you’re describing unconscious bias in action.

For 8 years I worked exclusively in the recruitment industry (from duck pluckers to General Managers, across many industries and multiple countries). Since then I’ve designed and delivered recruitment training programs for small and large businesses. The singular common thread is that when I would ask a manager what they wanted to recruit, their answer was a version of ‘another me’. They would look to their skill sets, their experience and want to replicate it in their future team member. We tend to recruit in our own image.

“please find another me”

Favouritism: Unconscious Bias In Action

There are SOOO many pitfalls to this outlook. A whole team of ‘me’ will likely come very quickly and harmoniously to decisions, but they will be narrow and ill considered. A team filled with one type is unlikely to interact as well with other departments or with customers as if they were more reflective of those other stakeholder groups.

From where I stand, favouritism is the most dangerous of the barriers to gender equality in the workplace. Where the decision makers are largely middle aged and white, these men will proactively have to fight their unconscious bias in order not to hire middle aged white men to follow them.

The very best resourced HR teams cannot prevent archaic attitudes. Like one business I was working for, helping to secure a CFO. Day to day, the organisation was highly progressive. Enter the renegade dinosaur. In interview the silent partner dropped in unexpectedly to participate in the interview with the female front-runner. Early in the interview he bombastically demanded “You’re obviously about that age, you’d be going off to have babies soon, wouldn’t you?”.

The question was illegal. But the damage was done. The candidate was thrown off by the question and bombed the rest of the interview.

Recourse? Why bother? The organisation went from being highly desirable to no-thanks.

We can help organisations to align their gender policies to practice and culture, but we cannot remove the dinosaurs.

The thing is, at Gender Gap Gone we don’t think we need to. At least, we’ll leave that to someone else!

More Women In The Leadership Pipeline

Good business leaders will appoint the best person for the role. If the best person on the day is male, then the male should be appointed. In my time recruiting senior leadership roles, I would have loved to have put more women forward for consideration. There just weren’t more women applying. It’s one of the reasons my move from recruitment to executive coaching appealed to me so much.

Heard the statistic that women won’t apply unless they’re 100% qualified but men will apply if they’re 60% qualified?

Tara Sophia Mohr’s more in-depth look https://hbr.org/2014/08/why-women-dont-apply-for-jobs-unless-theyre-100-qualified      is worth the read.

What if we could get more women into the leadership pipeline? LOTS more women? Let’s face it, not all women are interested in leadership roles. But if we expose female employees en masse to the tools, competitive language and inspiration to drive their own careers forward… wouldn’t that start to tip the scales? We believe it will.

Back to the water cooler- what can women do about that? It’s the golden goose. While it’s not a woman’s responsibility to create an equitable working environment for herself, there are certainly things a woman can do to raise her profile and to ensure that the projects she works on are aligned to the organisation’s values. And yes, you guessed it, stay tuned to hear more from Gender Gap Gone associates and from thought leaders on proven ways to go about just that.

A word must be said on the very obvious self-indulgence of this Gender Gap Gone intro blog: it’s been all about us and our ideology. We happen to think we’re pretty interesting & that we have a compelling story to tell! In seriousness though, in future articles you can expect to hear from experts, industry leaders and thought leaders. We do believe that with voices trained on solutions, we’re far stronger together.

The Gender Gap issue is complex and so must the solutions be. The Gender Gap Gone team is sure proud to be leading a solutions – focused change. Our business is brand new but our expertise is tested. Our advice is not unique to women, but our model is ideally suited to women and the progression of women.

Whether you LEAD female employees or you ARE a female employee or perhaps you’ve a partner or friend who is one: I hope you too subscribe to the idea that quality information can empower change. Quality information is precisely what we plan to serve up in the Gender Gap Gone Blog. A weekly dose of how-to or inspiration or case studies, from our team and guest contributors.

I hope you’ll join me. Subscribe to the concept? Then please, subscribe to the blog too and pass it on. Like us on facebook.com/GenderGapGone or follow us on twitter @GGapGone Join the conversation. We’d love to hear your contribution.

Catherine Nolan is Founder and Director of Gender Gap Gone, gap gone com.au launching in July 2015. Her team of associates are experts in their fields, in the areas of Leadership and Development, Communications, Talent Management, Careers and Consulting. At the time of writing the business is 4 weeks away from launch and yet has already attracted media attention, public acclaim and a number of guest speaking engagements. Catherine is passionate about the positive impacts of self-power in seeing the Gender Gap Gone.