By: Cherry Birch On: March 11, 2021

This month International Women’s Day has once again prompted discussions about gender gaps and glass ceilings. It has also been sad to reflect on the setback that COVID has dealt for women in the workplace.

Of course, the reasons for this are many and varied and I was reflecting the other day on a forum discussion in which I participated almost 20 years ago – entitled “Why do senior women derail?”

Among many arguments tabled, one stood out – “senior women do not derail, they de-select.” As an executive coach, I think that because women are more likely to make values based decisions, they may not value career success as much as men. Also their tolerance for actions which they see as in conflict with their values may also be less – less willing to put up with the proverbial cr*p!! As we all know, as we progress in organisations we get to see more and more of ‘the warts and all!’

Now for most this will be no surprise, but are we missing something when we provide executive coaching support to high potential females? A few years ago, one of my clients sent me an email – entitled “a good argument for your services.” If you have not already watched it, I thoroughly recommend setting aside enough time to watch this TED talk by Susan Colantuono  – “The career advice you probably didn’t get”.

As Susan says “So I turned to the audience of 150 women and I asked, “How many of you have ever been told that the door-opener for career advancement is your business, strategic and financial acumen, and that all the other important stuff is what differentiates you in the talent pool?” Three women raised their hand, and I’ve asked this question of women all around the globe in the five years since, and the percentage is never much different.”

She then goes on to cite different mentoring approaches to male and female mentees by one coach. And he said, “I helped the woman build confidence, I helped the man learn the business, and I didn’t realize that I was treating them any differently.” And he was sincere about that.”

So what does this all mean? I would argue that in developing our female leaders of the future, we need to ensure they receive the required strategic and business acumen skills…………………as well as working on their confidence!

Love to hear your thoughts.