Why Ambition is so very Important for Women and Business

There is a crisis going on right now in the corporate sector.  Gender diversity targets have been put in place and diversity measures established and yet many women are either not finding the opportunities, or choosing not to take on senior leadership roles and accept traditionally defined increases in responsibility.  Instead many are opting out, leaning out and stepping sideways or down in favour of flexibility, work life balance and autonomy.

In the Bain and Company recent US report “Everyday Moments of Truth: Frontline managers are key to women’s career opportunities” they share that women are losing ambition once they get to work. Women are far more ambitious than men when they first arrive in a new job however after just two years there has been a steep decline in the number of women who are still keen for advancement.  

The Australian context is similar.  

"Despite the fact that women comprise almost 60% of university graduates and 46% of the workforce, only 10% of senior leaders and 4% of CEOs in Australian ASX200 companies are women."   

Perhaps more significantly 60% of women don’t feel they have equal opportunity to be promoted into senior roles at the same rate as their male colleagues. (Actions Speak Louder Than Words, Bain & Co, Nov 2014)

Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook has put out the call for women to "lean in" and put up their hand for big assignments, take promotions when offered, negotiate well and stop leaning out.  You can learn more via her talk on TED - Why we have too few women leaders.

Katty Kay and Claire Shipman are also calling for action - with action being the key word and the solution.  They have authored two recent books on similar topics "Womenomics" and "The Confidence Code".  Their multiple references to research paint a clear picture that organisations with women in senior roles and on the Board significantly outperform organisations with few women in those senior roles on a range of critical indicators of success including profitability, productivity, risk mitigation, customer and employee satisfaction.  

Additionally, their research points to a confidence gap - and that women frequently suffer a lack of confidence and that genetics and biology are partly to blame.  This gap in confidence keeps women from stepping up and remaining ambitious. This confidence gap keeps women from pressing on towards the top, despite being eminently well qualified, highly skilled and extremely capable.

Closer to home, Annabel Crabb, journalist, author (The Wife Drought) and commentator, also writes about confidence in a recent article A Crying Shame - how women could use a little of the shameless confidence men take for granted.

Tara Sophia Mohr is an expert on women, leadership and wellbeing but in an article about why women don't apply for roles unless they meet 100% of the criteria, reflects that it could actually be that we don't understand that it's actually expected, part of the process of "leaning in" and getting ahead.

So why is this important?  Because when women don't step up, speak out and take charge then communities and organisations miss out in a big way according to multiple resources including the Business Ethics Report "You Need to Retain Women: The Business Case for Gender Diversity" - March 2012.

But for the individuals involved, we feel stuck, frustrated or "undiscovered" in the face of lost opportunities and start to believe the "hype" about not being good enough or not being worthy enough.

  • So what special projects have you missed out on because you were waiting for the time to be right?
  • What salary increases did you not ask for again because you had been rejected once already?
  • What opportunities got away from you because you were being polite and allowing someone else their time in the sun?
  • What promotions were you passed over for because you were too polite and not direct enough?
  • What big audacious goals did you give up on because you felt underprepared?
  • And more importantly - knowing what you know now, what would you do differently if given the opportunity?
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  • I am the creator of The Ambition Revolution – the science and  art of amping smart and savvy. 
  • I mentor busy professionals to ensure they remain strategic, agile and focused on the bigger game. 

  • I also work with organisations who are trying to increase the profile of women in leadership, but struggling to do so.

  • Call 0425 780 336 or email ablesing@amandablesing.com to find out how mentoring can help you make a bigger difference.

Feel like your leadership journey has stalled? Email ablesing@amandablesing.com to set up a 30 min one on one to learn more. Helping clients shift from feeling invisible to becoming invincible in just 12 months