Sylvia Ann Hewlett and The Center for Work Life Policy

I adore Sylvia and had the honor of serving on the board of The Center For Work Life Policy, an organization she started, for many years. ( click here from FB) The center does cutting edge research on human capital management issues and the Hidden Brain Drain Task-Force turns this research in to action. For a list of their research click here.

Thursday Sylvia had an OPED published in the Financial Times called “A Final Push Can Break the Glass Ceiling” on their newest Sponsor Effect research. It is an extremely well written piece and a timely one given the prior days announcement of a new round of GS partners.
Here is my summary of her article:
– Yes progress but women still hold only 15% of corporate board seats, make up less then 5% of top earners and 3% of Fortune 500 CEOS. Numbers are worse in the UK.
-Why? Talk of discrimination,work/family trade-offs, lack of the ‘vision thing’, nor ambitious enough. She says.. much more to it.
-Her new research – “women who are qualified to lead stall not for lack of drive, but for lack of push.” It is about sponsorship.
-Why the difficulties in getting sponsors? Reluctance to give women feedback, fear of mentor ship either being perceived as or leading to more (the sex thing), and more.
– UK is pushing forward with a ‘plan to take female representation on corporate boards to 50%.”
– This week on Tuesday “a group of major companies launched a new “30% club” aiming to increase female board representation to 30% by 2015.”
Personally I was blessed to have some amazing sponsors at GS, including a man named Mike Mortara who was my immediate boss and later the head of fixed income. There is no doubt that I would not have made partner without his intentional support and mentor ship. There were others as well and I could not agree more with Sylvia’s findings and the importance of these strong relationships. Later when I worked on the partner selection process it was so clear that without a senior person pushing for the candidate, they were less likely to make it through. When push came to shove and it was one candidate versus another, the power and voice of who was in the room pushing for them made all the difference. It was also my experience that it was more likely that a woman did not have that voice in the room, and their road to partnership became much longer.
Thank you Sylvia for the work you do. It is truly an honor to be in your circle and connected to the work of the Center. If you have not already read it, I would highly recommend Syliva’s book “Creating a Life: What Every Women Needs to Know about Having A Child and a Career,” as well as her latest, “On Ramps and Off Ramps: Keeping Talented Women on the Road to Success.” ( click here for Amazon)

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