Why don't more women reach top leadership positions as men do? One big reason is women leaders are not able to build effective networks and harness existing organizational and industry networks. Let's explore the reasons and how women can fix these.
A study based on 37 high-profile women leaders was published in the journal Human Relations revealed interesting fact about work place's gender equality which says - women don't feel comfortable while networking and they don't network as much as men.
This study also reveals that this happens because of implicit bias. This means that women's actions are held back due to certain attributes affecting their decision-making.
Rather than thinking about how they can benefit professionally from connections, women leaders look at their connections from a social point of view. In comparison, men always do the exact opposite thing, i.e. focusing more on the "benefit-part" of their networks rather than thinking about personal relations.
Well-educated women are capable of participating in networking events and contributing their knowledge and expertise to their professional network, but their tendency of undervaluing themselves inhabits their career growth. That's why researchers named this the "gendered modesty" concept.
What is the core reason behind this implicit bias in women so that we can find a permanent solution to this?
Women mistakenly perceive networking as an "unethical benefitting" thing leading to implicit bias.
Networking is just another name for helping - giving and getting help. It is well-known that women are great at helping. So, why are they not great networkers?
Women who want to break the glass ceiling and reach top leadership positions must learn to build great networks.
Women need to learn to ask for help too.
Women need to ask for referrals.
Sharing 4 keys that would help women fix these issues and build great networks -
1. Women need to change their perspective.
Women need to change their perspective and burst the myths they have in their minds about networking, such as networking is manipulative, it's all about politics, it's not for introverts, and so on.
Once women change their way of thinking towards networking, it will become much easier for them.
2. Women should develop opportunity mindset.
Women think looking for and grabbing opportunities is being opportunist. These two are different.
80% of top jobs are not advertised, but placed through networks. So, it is important to be part of industry networks.
Networking blesses everyone with tons of opportunities in terms of growth and development.
Women should acknowledge what resources they need to access for great opportunities.
Whether they want to get a better job, an investor to start a business, or a mentor to guide them toward a better career decision, they can access all these opportunities if they have a great network.
3. Women need to think of networking as helping.
Women leaders should leave their comfort zone and go to networking and business events and conferences and introduce themselves to new people and build new connections.
They should try to help others and their connections by adding value in their professional or personal lives with their understanding and knowledge.
Also, taking networking as help will help women to get out of their implicit bias— the biggest of women when it comes to networking.
4. Men should encourage women.
As the networking sector is men-dominated (because women have mostly overlooked this sea of opportunities due to their own reasons), men can come forward and encourage their female colleagues, friends, relatives, etc.
Men should also try to start conversations with women at workplaces or networking events by asking them questions. Men can also share their own networking strategies with women and encourage them to network more frequently.
Men can also encourage women by aiming to increase their women's network by 15-20% every year and paying more attention to the gender ratio at networking or business events.
Women are holding themselves back in terms of growth and development. This is clearly evident in the gender gap in the global work participation. Only 47% of women are in the workforce as compared to 75% of men. A gap of 25%.
If women change their perspective, think about the opportunities they will get because of networking more frequently and if men encourage women in the right way, the day is no farther when we'll be seeing the depletion in the men-women employment gap.