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The "Why" behind Miriam Grobman Consulting and the business case for having more women in leadership positions. 
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Dear reader


I'm excited to share with you this first newsletter. But first, let's start from the beginning: many people have been asking why and how I became such a vocal advocate on the topic of women in leadership so I want to tell you this semi-long but very educational story.

 

A Humble Beginning


Looking back, I must say, I have never planned for it. I cruised through gender barriers most of my life as if they never existed. Even back in Israel, when my pre-Been friends were taking dance classes, I joined an all-boy Karate class. I was shorter than most people by at least one head and was about half of their weight but I still wanted to show them that I could do it. In University, I was one of the 10% female students in the Computer Sciences program. I had to overcome a huge learning curve with no prior coding experience and finished at the top of my class. I landed a lucrative job on Wall Street, got my MBA from the Wharton school and ultimately ended up taking an exciting role at a Brazilian mining company. Even though it was not a popular career choice at my program nor I knew much about mining, I thought it would be a fun to try a new industry and a new country.

 

Fast Forward Two Years Later

 
I was fully eased into my role a corporate strategy manager in Rio de Janeiro when one day I saw a study about the gender balance in the company.  To my surprise,  I was one of only 13% women there (I later found out that mining, as a whole, was one of the most male-dominated industries). I've never realized that the numbers were so low because in my immediate environment I dealt with more women than in any prior job. The data also showed that at every level women were paid about the same rates as men (great!) but at every stage of hierarchy they were not progressing through the pipeline at the same rate as men. This was a great loss of talent in an industry that could benefit a lot from more feminine touch - collaboration, employee development, long-term thinking, attention to safety, etc. 

My financial analyst-turned business strategist-self started digging deeper and mapping out some interesting trends:
  • Men lobbied much more aggressively for recognition and promotion while women held the belief that their work would be recognized eventually. Some of the more timid men shared the same attitudes. 
  • Biases against moms or moms-to-be were common: they got removed from promotion lists and training opportunities and sometimes even demoted or fired.  Ironically, some of the most dedicated employees I encountered were working moms. 
  • In performance reviews women were deemed as "too aggressive" or "not assertive enough" and thereby disqualified from promotion.
  • For both sexes, promotion depended very much on building strong relationships, something that men tended to work more on
  • Even in functions with high percentages of women, men dominated senior positions
  • Sexist jokes were seen by some as a way to create a "fun work atmosphere." Those who didn't appreciate the jokes (or were the direct targets) felt obliged to participate.
  • Very little transparency existed in career paths
  • There were a few women in high leadership positions but majority of them were disliked and rumored to have gotten their jobs due to nepotism.
There were various actions addressing women in operational roles (mainly focusing on facilities and uniforms) and initiatives around women-friendly recruiting but nothing was really targeted towards solving the leaky pipeline problem.
 

 

It's not a Women's Problem, but a Culture's Problem

 

I first thought this was a "Brazil thing” but shortly thereafter discovered that Sheryl Sandberg and Anne-Mary Slaughter who were talking about similar issues in the United States.  I started sharing this research and raising awareness.
 
With more data at hand, it became clear to me that the problem was cultural: women were trying to compete in industries created for, and run by, men. On one hand, they had to face all sorts of biases and extra hurdles and on the other hand, they were not as adapt as male colleagues in navigating the system (either because of access or because of upbringing /socialization). Moreover, with no interesting role models at the top, leadership didn't feel attainable or desirable for many of the women I met. 
 
I realized that I had the ability to empower my female colleagues by raising their self-awareness and providing the tools to be more successful. Nevertheless, I couldn't do much about changing the system unless I figured out a way to engage mostly-male senior leadership who was running the show. Before leaving Brazil I bought everyone in my team Sheryl Sandberg's Lean In book and promised myself I will keep fighting for these talented women. 



I Decide to Take Action


Back in the States, I immersed myself in trying to find solutions. I read numerous reports from McKinseyMercerWorld Economic ForumCatalyst and other publications. I spoke to women in Technology, Banking, Academia, Oil & Gas and Media; women who were single, women with kids, women who didn't want to have kids; women who worked for someone and women who started their own businesses. I spoke to women (and some men) in the USA, UK, Brazil, Germany, Japan, Turkey, Switzerland, and Austria. I went on to social media and started sharing content through my Facebook page on Leadership and Women and  YouTube ChannelThe same trends kept emerging again and again.

Unconscious (or Conscious Bias), Work-life Balance, and Confidence Gap were the three things that came up the most in my research. I also found that, despite the abundance of information about the problem and the lost opportunity, most people were fairly unaware and most companies unwilling to admit the above. There was a lot of conversation and very little action.
If you had similar or different experiences, I would love to hear from you. Please send me e-mail, or contact me via this online form.


Hello World!


I am now more convinced than ever that it's possible to change the story for women in leadership and this is why I started Miriam Grobman Consulting. I want to help transform organizations to more diverse and inclusive places and support talented women leaders by providing guidance, inspiration and training to make them more successful in those organizations. 

In upcoming newsletters I will highlight research data to help you understand the value that women bring to organizations and the gender biases that may hold us back from progress. I will also share practical lessons from companies that are breaking new grounds by thinking differently. 

I believe that if we had more talented women in leadership, our companies and societies would be better places to live and work in. I look forward to engaging with you in this important discussion.


Thank you for tuning in,

Miriam Grobman,
Found & CEO, Miriam Grobman Consulting
Miriam Grobman Photo
 

Did you know that: 
Men are 4x more likely to ask for what they want
Women value the work of others 20% more than their own
Women will work 20% longer before asking for a promotion

Lesson 1: More Women Leaders = More $$$ 


As a business professional, I have always found it offensive when gender equality at work was treated as a guilt-motivated moral issue. I personally didn't want to be treated as a charity case and didn't feel that other women did either.  It seems to me that this kind of treatment devalues the individual talents of a woman, and it could easily lead to pink-washing. 

In the meantime, there is plenty of independent evidence showing that having more talented women in leadership, management and overall workforce improves companies' financial results and provides numerous other business benefits. Here are 39 examples of such benefits, supported by research.
Business benefits of diversity. Catalyst.
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Sent with great appreciation from Miriam Grobman Consulting. 
Copyright © 2015 Miriam Grobman Consulting, All rights reserved.


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