T+D May 10 // Intelligence //
Career Pipeline Bears Pipe Dreams for Women
By Aparna Nancherla
Unfortunately, feminists need not celebrate just yet.
Talk of the glass ceiling being shattered may still be premature as many career-driven women are still marginalized within the workforce. Even after taking into account years of experience, industry, and global region, women were still more likely than men to start in a post-MBA job at a lower level, according to a report by Catalyst called “Pipeline’s Broken Promise.” This finding held firm all the way up the pipeline, from first-level managers to senior executive positions.
In addition, women are being paid $4,600 less than men in their first jobs. In fact, even while accounting for number of years of prior experience, time since MBA, first post-MBA job, global region, and industry, men still had higher starting salaries in their first post-MBA jobs than women.
“The results were disappointing,” says report co-author and Catalyst Research Director Christine Silva. “We’ve studied the barriers facing women in their careers for years—for example, stereotypes or presumptions about their abilities or interests—but with this study, we had an opportunity to test whether this held true with a group of high-potential women and men.”
The participant sample included 4,143 women and men who graduated from full-time MBA programs and worked full-time in companies and firms at the time of the survey. Furthermore, the study also accounted for reasons employers might give for inequities, such as women having different aspirations or leaving the workforce temporarily to bear children. The findings held even when the women and men sampled had the same aspirations and didn’t have children.
The report also showed that women who took nontraditional career paths were penalized more heavily than men who did the same.
“While the study didn’t analyze why this is happening, previous Catalyst research shows [that there are] entrenched barriers to women’s advancement, such as gender-based stereotypes, exclusion from informal networks, and lack of role models,” says Silva. “Having a champion or champions at the decision-making table, whether it’s a decision about who gets laid off or who gets promoted, greatly helps.”
The study used input from CEOs and senior leaders in major global companies to explore the reasons behind the data and offer advice on how to work toward a solution.
“For example, they note that companies may need to offer additional training when employees first get people management responsibilities,” notes Silva. She cited another senior leader observation as the bias that men may be ready for executive jobs more quickly, whereas women need to prove themselves first.
Some of the suggestions on improvements include not assuming that the playing field is leveled; examining erroneous assumptions about demographics and life choices; building in checks and balances against unconscious biases; collecting and reviewing salary growth metrics; making assignments based on qualifications, not presumptions; and acknowledging the inequities that are destroying a robust pipeline.
Companies should not assume that women will stay in jobs and overlook opportunities for advancement and better prospects elsewhere. Both women and men who left their first post-MBA jobs for career advancement reasons moved further up the ladder than those who cited different reasons. Those who left for more money had greater salary growth.
“[This research] will hopefully serve as a wake-up call that we can’t expect that inequality will disappear just by ‘giving it time’ and waiting it out,” says Silva.
T+D May 10 // Public Policy //
Focus on Training in Washington
By Jennifer Homer
With unemployment in the United States hovering at the 10 percent mark and “real” unemployment projected to be almost 18 percent, the public workforce system has been very busy helping millions of citizens develop their skills, build their résumés, and find employment.
Two major components of the system are 600 Workforce Investment Boards (WIBs) that lead the workforce development strategies in local communities and 3,000 One-Stop Career Centers that provide employment and training services for adult workers, businesses, and youth. In many areas across the United States, traffic in and out of One-Stop Career Centers has more than doubled during the recession.
With the theme of “Preparing a Competitive U.S. Workforce: Reflection, Reinvestment, Recovery,” the National Association of Workforce Boards (NAWB) held its annual Forum in Washington, D.C., in early March. Board members from state and local WIBs, community partners, and other organizations attended the conference, which achieved record attendance and brought together tremendous energy and enthusiasm for sharing best practices and achievements in workforce development at the local level.
During the conference, Jane Oates, assistant secretary for employment and training at the U.S. Department of Labor, noted that getting people back to work is priority number one. In addition to providing an overview of the agency’s draft strategic plan for 2010-2016, Assistant Secretary Oates acknowledged the commitment and hard work of the entire workforce investment system at the federal, state, and local levels during the ongoing economic crisis and shared some interesting data:
- A record 7.7 million people benefited from the services of the workforce investment system in 2009, which is a 320 percent increase compared with the previous two years.
- The focus on summer youth programs was tremendous—more than 300,000 youth (double the original estimate) were given summer employment opportunities, and 15,000 of those were able to go to work full-time with the same employer from the summer job.
In addition to funding other grants, the Employment and Training Administration (ETA) has awarded $715 million thus far in competitive grants from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. More information about grant funding, including information about new solicitations, can be found at www.doleta.gov/grants.
Looking ahead, ETA is continuing to focus on the Rapid Response program that provides resources for employees affected by a company layoff; continuing to support and build Registered Apprenticeship programs; strengthening youth programs; funding competitive grants, including those that support workforce training for high-demand industries; and providing funding to foster innovation within the workforce system.
T+D May 10 // Diversity //
Answering for Bias in the Workplace
By Eileen McKeown
Demographic variables of race and ethnicity affect perceptions of contribution and inherent value of direct reports or individual contributors by managers in the workplace, according to a report by global talent research firm Novations Group.
In the study “Reducing the Effects of Bias in the Workplace,” participating managers were asked to rank their direct reports in terms of contribution and performance based on the Four Stages of Contribution Model: stage 1—contributing dependently, stage 2—contributing independently, stage 3—contributing through others, and stage 4—contributing strategically. Direct reports were also asked to complete the same survey, providing their own assessment of their contribution. That’s where the disconnect occurred.
Managers’ perceptions of their direct reports were higher in stage 1, while direct reports generally rated themselves as contributing more in stages 2 and 3. The largest discrepancy in manager and direct report self ratings was for Asian employees, who saw their contribution much more in stage 2 (11.3 percent difference) and stage 3 (19.1 percent difference) than did their managers.
The study also found that managers rate the contributions of African American professionals at 42.5 percent in stage 1, while African Americans see their contributions in stage 2 (46.2 percent). These differences are significant and can affect how managers actually position an African American employee or direct report for promotion, the study suggests. This will further impact or limit their future level of influential contribution within the organization.
“Managers need to recognize the importance of proactively reaching out to their diverse team members,” says Paul Terry, co-author of the report. “Managers cannot assume that everyone ‘gets the message’ in the same way and the same channels.”
Doing more with less has become the new mantra for most organizations, and many recognize that there is inherent business value in leveraging a diverse employee population. However, neglecting the needs of minority groups based on preconceived managerial notions and blatant misconceptions can be a dangerous proposition.
“Managers in general need to recognize that differences in background, ethnicity, and gender can affect how professionals view their own capability or confidence,” Terry adds. “Managers then must ensure that they are positioning all team members for success, and that the individual support needed is provided.”
T+D May 10 // Designing Training //
Military Goes to War for Endangered Species to Protect Training
By Pat Galagan
The red-cockaded woodpecker has found an unusual ally in the U.S. Army. The endangered bird, which likes the pine woods of Fort Stewart, Georgia, for nesting and breeding, has become a beneficiary of the post’s $3 million wildlife preservation effort.
At Eglin Air Force Base, environmentalists have helped the Okaloosa darter, a small endangered fish, make a comeback. And at Twenty-Nine Palms, California, the Marines have built a research and rearing center for the protection of desert tortoises.
It is not that military post commanders have become tree huggers. The military has come to realize that helping endangered species thrive means fewer restrictions on training exercises.
The Army alone owns some 30 million acres that are habitats for countless plants and animals but are also sites for military training. Under such federal laws as the Endangered Species Act, the military must take steps to protect certain plants and animals to avoid curbs on their training exercises.
At Fort Stuart, for example, tanks had been prohibited from going into areas where woodpeckers had nests, but since the protection program has helped to increase the number of woodpeckers, tanks are now allowed to drive among their colonies.
Between 2004 and 2008, the Department of Defense spent $300 million to protect endangered species, more than it had spent in the previous 10 years combined. L. Peter Boice, the Pentagon’s deputy director of natural resources, has stated, “There is a strong understanding now that land is a limited resource, and that even our military is part of a larger ecosystem. If that degrades, it is harder for us to do our mission.”
Officials at Fort Stewart are taking things a step further. Encroaching real estate development has forced many animal species onto the base. To limit these pressures, the post has formed partnerships with the Georgia Land Trust, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, and the county government to try to preserve 100,000 acres on the edge of the post.
The land will be a haven for several species, including the gopher tortoise. If the tortoise does not become officially listed as endangered, future limitations on training at the post are less likely.
T+D May 10 // Fast Fact //
Lindsey Vonn Slips, Others Learn
Few activities other than sports offer so many rich lessons from the mistakes of others. During the 2010 Olympics, we saw hundreds of these teachable moments, as normally superb athletes flubbed their moves and tried to recover.
Jon Nolting, sports education manager for downhill skiing for the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association, capitalizes on such moments. The USSA fields skiing and snowboarding teams for the Olympics and provides training support for athletes, coaches, and parents. Nolting’s job is to reach young ski racers who are competing in club programs in the United States and to support their training and development.
Nolting records elite skiers at events such as the Olympics and the World Cup. He isolates key moments, such as a skier’s recovery from a near-fall, to show frame by frame what happened. He then adds an analysis of the athlete’s techniques and tactics to turn the video into a teaching tool for aspiring ski racers and their coaches. He also uses the online channel Dartfish.tv to “provide instructional resources that will help raise the level of snow sport performance across the United States.” Dartfish TV is a Swiss video technology company specializing in broadcast footage of sports events and sports training.
The USSA (www.ussa.org) operates The Center of Excellence, a national training and education center for athletes, coaches, officials, clubs, parents, volunteers, and other USSA stakeholders nationwide. The center occupies a 5-acre campus in Park City, Utah, where members can use strength-training areas, ski and snowboarding ramps, trampolines, a nutrition center, and an array of educational offerings for coaches and clubs.
T+D May 10 // Infograph //
The sense of engagement among those still employed has remained relatively constant across companies throughout the recession.