Here at Working Mother, we’ve been gearing up to announce the 2013 NAFE Top 50 Companies (sorry, you’ll having to wait until February 5 for the list!), our annual initiative celebrating companies that go the extra mile to make sure women are groomed for and utilized in executive positions. We’re finding some interesting trends among these progressive companies—which we’re excited to share early next year—but even as we’re gloating about the headway that industry leaders are making in the long-term struggle to get women into the exciting, powerful, profit-oriented positions at the tops of their executive ladders, we’ve had to acknowledge the fact that their work takes a long time to trickle down to the rest of corporate America.
A timely new study from Catalyst, a great nonprofit membership organization that focuses exclusively on getting women ahead in business, offers some really useful insights into the problems that continue stunting the progress of women in the executive ranks:
- Women don’t get enough high-profile assignments.
- Women’s project budgets tend to be smaller than those of men.
- Women don’t manage as many team members.
- Men get more international assignments.
- Leadership training programs, which many companies do offer, can be helpful but are no substitute for high-profile projects.
Click here to read more about the study and results.
Catalyst calls the high-profile, big-budget, large-team assignments that women are missing out on “hot jobs” – they’re the ones that the C-Suite executives are paying attention to and rewarding with promotions and even better assignments. We at Working Mother and NAFE (the National Association for Female Advancement) have been harping on these issues for years—we ask our NAFE Top Companies applicants for details about how many women have profit-and-loss responsibility, how many run big-budget operations and how many report directly to the CEO; we also ask about their advancement programs—sponsorship, mentoring, career counseling, etc. (click here for a piece we ran early this year explaining these programs)—but we’ve lately begun to feel like Sallie Krawcheck, former head of Merrill Lynch's global wealth management division, who remarked in an April interview with Marie Claire that advancement programs can sometimes serve to just make women busier!
Catalyst’s data, which came from a survey of MBAs who graduated between 1996 and 2007, support our contention that the key to getting to the top of a company is getting high-profile experience on big projects. We’re in the process right now of getting serious, tangible advice from real moms who have done just that and who are leading major divisions of big companies as a result. Watch for their stories and tips in our February/March Working Mother and here on workingmother.com!