Changing the norm

As part of his campaign for #disruptTheNorm, Boyden’s research with a panel of women, explores the motivations, obstacles, catalysts and solutions for increasing female leadership.

This snapshot is the second in a series that focuses on specific challenges in promoting female leadership and what can be done to address them. We were interested in the roles of career facilitators.

Research results show that women succeed in their trade, thanks to their own courage, determination and hard work. However, it is also revealed an additional factor, the quality and the role of their boss.

Create your own opportunities

Among the participants, the support of the direct manager is the main career catalyst at 32%, followed by support for the surrounding environment for 30%, the help of a solid network at 21% and a good 10% university baggage.

We are often told in life “we must seize and create opportunities”. But for executives who are both young and female, it is a difficult challenge, especially in male-dominated environments. It is therefore essential to have a supportive boss.

“By running for a senior position, people thought I was too young. My competitor was a man ten years older, fortunately my boss supported me and I won the promotion. Commented the director of human resources for a logistics company in the United Kingdom.

A division head of a pharmaceutical company in Austria explains: “You need someone who supports and helps you. I was young and I succeeded because I was given the chance to do something. ”

The chairman of the board of directors of an FMCG company in the Nordic region sums it up. “I have often been asked to give career advice. The classic answer is to choose the right boss. It will give you confidence and help you grow. ”

“During the interview process, it is important that candidates explore how diversity is reflected in the culture and environment of the company. In the final stages, it is essential to understand the role played by the future boss, his attitude and the way he manages all aspects of his leadership style “, comments Pamela Colquhoun, Healthcare & Life Sciences Partner, based in Toronto.

Support for the surrounding environment is the second biggest success factor. Colleagues who support you and accessible role models are the guarantors of good support. The more visible women are, the more they aspire to leadership. 29% of director positions are held by women in companies with a female CEO, compared to 15% overall.

Flexibility depends on the organizational culture . “I have been in a healthy culture that recognizes the possibility of having several priorities in life. My business understood that I had a private life and that I had to be flexible, “said the CEO of a private equity firm in the Nordic region.

A strong network provides personal support and referrals, allowing women to access leadership opportunities through word of mouth.

“The impact of networking on my career has been enormous. My current role came from a network of mentors. It’s about building strong relationships, many times a year, “, said a director of an aerospace and defense company in the United Kingdom.

“Even if it is not always easy to find time to network, it is essential to participate in professional events and to contribute to online networks. Reputation makes a huge difference and for it to work, people have to know you as a person, and your abilities, “ , says Kerstin Roubin, Managing Partner, Global Healthcare Division and Boyden Life Sciences, based in Austria.

Although university education ranks fourth in the list of career facilitators, the pursuit of additional qualifications stimulates progression in professional careers and contributes to leadership.

“An MBA has given me confidence in my own opinions and intuitions. I realized that there was no “something magic” that others had and not me “, explains the CEO of an electronics company in Southern Europe .

From informal individual support to the formal organizational culture

“It is clear that the women who participated in this research succeeded in meeting the challenges they faced, they did not do it alone. They had the informal support of different people, most often their boss. explains research leader Andreas Landgrebe, managing partner and world leader, Cloud, Big Data, Analytics / BI, based in Austria.

At WWIRE, this study challenged us, helping women to become leaders and encouraging them to occupy leadership positions are among our main objectives.