Catalyst for success

By the year 2011, there will be eight women to every 10 men in the New Zealand workforce.
The question is, where will those women be in the organisation?
In an effort to help develop the potential of women in business, Massey University’s centre for women and leadership is bringing Dr Mary Mattis from Catalyst in New York to talk strategies for advancing women. Her interests are centred around best practices to recruit, retain and advance women.
In the US, Catalyst is non-profit organisation that tracks women’s progress through the boardrooms, sales territories and management ranks of the American workplace.
Mattis has concentrated on how organisations can attract high-flying women and keep them once they reach the top. The need for such thinking is increasing as companies continue to lose females tempted to start up their own business.
Researchers have identified destructive corporate cultures as major reason. Mattis’ expertise is in successfully shaping the workplace to meet women’s needs, which creates more productive environment for everyone.
In findings from its recent Women in Corporate Leadership study, Catalyst surveyed 1251 executive women with titles of vice president or above in Fortune 1000 companies.
The women in this study were often the first and only women at their levels or in their functions, and attributed their success to the following factors:
* Consistently exceed expectations: 77 percent
* Develop style with which male managers are comfortable: 61 percent
* Seek out difficult assignments: 50 percent
* Have influential mentor: 37 percent.

The glass ceiling
Female executives and male CEOs differed in what the obstacles to advancement were. Females cited the following as holding them back:
* Male stereotyping and pre-conceptions of women: 52 percent.
* Exclusion from informal networks of communications: 49 percent
* Lack of significant general management/line experience: 47 percent
CEOs saw two main reasons preventing women advancing to the top:
* Lack of general management/line experience: 82 percent
* Women have not been in the pipeline long enough: 64 percent.

Affirmative action
Forty four percent of women surveyed said that affirmative action or equal employment policies didn’t affect their own lives or opportunities. Women of colour and those over 45 were less likely to say affirmative action had no effect.

In New Zealand
Catalyst’s findings are highly relevant to the New Zealand scene.
While there are few comparative statistics for New Zealand, Massey College of Business is updating the information about women in manage-ment positions in New Zealand with survey, its second. The first benchmark study was done in 1994.
Dr Mary Mattis will talk at the ParkRoyal, Wellington on April 4, Graduate School of Business Palmerston North, on April 7, and Centra Hotel Auckland, on April ll.

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