February 20, 2012

A "Sneak Peek" of Thursday's Chrysalis Conversations Talk

We are looking forward to hosting renowned author Sally Helgesen for the first of three Chrysalis Conversations this week.

You might be interested in Helgesen’s perspective on the evolution of women’s leadership initiatives, which she shared in a blog last spring.

STAGE 1:  Though the 1990s, companies were focused on attracting high quality women.  Experts believed that women’s leadership was a pipeline issue – hiring high quality women now would yield in high quality of women’s leadership in the future.  In other words, as long as the company created women employee’s perception of a “good work environment,” the issue of women’s leadership would take care of itself.

STAGE 2:  From the late 90’s to about 2009, corporations began to focus on retention, rather than attraction, as experts began to realize that just hiring women wasn’t enough.  Many companies were fulfilling parity (50/50 gender balance), but 50% of the women were still not making it to the executive suite, which became known as the “female brain drain.”  Women were leaving their positions due to difficult cultures in their offices, seeking work that was more personally rewarding – where they could control the pace and create rewarding relationships with peers and clients.

STAGE 3:  By 2009, companies were finally realizing they needed to stop wasting talent and resources.  Instead of just focusing on retention, companies are determining ways to integrate women’s initiatives into long-term corporate goals, looking at what women can provide that will help assure the company achieves its goals.

Helgesen opines that the drive for this corporate motivation comes from a very powerful source: customers and clients.  “More and more people in client leadership positions come from different backgrounds, and this is not going to change,” she states.  If the corporate culture doesn’t change, clients may make difference choices that mirror their own leadership or experience.

This is just a snapshot of the powerful messages we’ll hear at next Thursday’s Chrysalis Conversations and  mirrors the message that Chrysalis sends – women play a key role in assuring corporate and client success, improving the “bottom line,” and that corporate and public leadership needs to refocus efforts on developing talented women.