Culture shift

images-1We had many conversations this past week while we slid into the vacation state of mind.  One of them that kept coming up was culture.  Culture has many definitions but what we were talking about was the culture of large organizations, changes that need to be made, and the movement that is afoot.

The movement that is afoot is that companies realize that they can not survive unless they change their culture for women.  As more and more companies are started across each vertical there are more opportunities for women to take jobs in companies that are supportive of women from equal pay to family leave.  Large companies can not survive if they are male dominated.  Bottom line there needs to more females at the top making decisions.

We have seen an attitude shift in regards to embracing the needs that women have in their careers might be different than their male counterparts.  Women should be applauded and embraced vs creating an atmosphere where at one point the ability for women to climb up the corporate ladder becomes unattainable.

As companies wake up there is something else shifting which is the way millennials work.  They have been influenced by the start-up generation. Two-thirds are interested in being an entrepreneur.  Their 20’s are more about experiencing a variety of different jobs until perhaps finding the right path.  If I saw a resume of someone who was around 29 who had been working at one company all of their 20’s it would actually be a red flag.   That’s a tough one for a large company.

Large companies need and want people to stay for so many years.  Each individual is an investment in the future.  So as much as smart large companies realize that they need to change their cultures for the next generation (including being technologically savvy) they need to figure out how to possibly outsource or have more flexibility for the entry level jobs so that people want to stay and grow.  I still do believe that once people start to begin to have families that they will have a desire and need to get a weekly paycheck but they also want to be happy.  Happiness for the millennials is first and foremost.

We know that change must come from large corporations from the board room down to the mail room and the good news is that many of these companies do too.  Yet what I really wonder is how many of these huge corporations will be around or as big as they are today ten years from now.


Comments (Archived):

  1. Susan Rubinsky

    Interesting. You are right on about women. Why is it cool for a guy to take Friday afternoon to play golf but not cool for a woman to take Friday afternoon off to volunteer at her child’s school? I doubt the companies would even be as flexible with women even if they were playing golf. Big change needs to happen. I checked out a long time ago and the change that has happened seems so tiny and so slow as I observe from out here on the sidelines.I doubt big change will happen until the corporate makeup reflects society at large in demographics. Same with government. Same with universities.

    1. Gotham Gal

      It should be applauded that a woman goes to see their kid at an activity. Totally agree with everything you say.

    2. pointsnfigures

      Not disagreeing with you-but many golf games are really business repoire/relationship building games in disguise. Now, if you could get other bus associates to all volunteer at the same school it’s a different story.

      1. Susan Rubinsky

        I understand that about golf. But women make their deals in different ways in different environments. But corporate structure doesn’t support or reward that, even though most of the big studies indicate that women are more productive than their male counterparts. Indeed, women with children are considered the least worthy of promotion in blind resume studies where resumes are changed only to indicate whether the candidate is male or female and whether they have children or not. Corporations prefer men with children because the corporate structure blindly thinks that the men will work harder due to their responsibilities. Women with children are penalized because the same corporate structure thinks the women will sacrifice work for family. The irony is that it is that same corporate structure that creates a culture in which women aren’t given the freedom to be responsible for their families and to perform in the ways that work for their circumstances. The larger irony is that women still actually outperform men, even when the structure isn’t favorable.Women produce differently, in different ways and different circumstances than men do. Yet corporate culture, in general, supports only the environments where men do the networking and deal making (eg., golf) but not where and how women do (eg., volunteering).Data sources:”The faux male candidates with kids were the most hirable, according to the study. Next came men and women without kids. The least desirable were women with children. Among job interviewers in the study, women were consciously (or subconsciously) punished for having a family. ” — Bloomberg –…”The reasons why women choose to remain at their current level or move on to another organization—despite their unflagging confidence and desire to advance—include: lack of role models, exclusion from the informal networks, not having a sponsor in upper management to create opportunities…Of all the forces that hold women back, however, none are as powerful as entrenched beliefs. While companies have worked hard to eliminate overt discrimination, women still face the pernicious force of mindsets that limit opportunity. Managers—male and female—continue to take viable female candidates out of the running, often on the assumption that the woman can’t handle certain jobs and also discharge family obligations.” — McKinsey –

        1. Gotham Gal

          thanks for sending these links.

  2. JLM

    .Generals are often prepared to re-fight the last war because that is what informs their experience.In much the same way, those who espouse women’s rights in the marketplace are fighting a struggle that has already been decided. The battle is over (intellectually) and you won, now all that is happening is bayoneting the wounded.The bad actors at places like Zillow know they’re bad actors. That is the intellectual victory and they will pay for being so stupid — in their company culture and in the courthouse. It will be expensive tuition.Nobody — CEOs — with a brain would stand in the way of a woman volunteering her time at her child’s school. A smart CEO would not only not be an impediment, he/she would encourage it and perhaps even demand it.Really smart CEOs know they own all their employees’ problems — my thirty three year ago epiphany as to why I always provided health insurance — and rearing children is a real problem.No real work gets done unless and until the family unit is stabilized. [This is the real lesson to be gleaned from Ferguson BTW.]I once gave an employee a huge bonus to send his son to rehab — BEST money I ever invested as this was my number one employee for all time. Ever. Not only did it humanize me and the company it chose sides that never changed.That one act which was instinctive on my part as I knew and liked that young man and proved to be the glue that bound that team together for more than a decade. Most importantly, it was perfectly genuine on all sides.My CFO went a little ape shit but I was the CEO.Most importantly, it likely saved a young man’s life. I got paid back in ways that are impossible to describe. I was the real beneficiary and it made me like myself.I used to hire the top finance grad — woman — of the University of Texas for several years running. It was not an enlightened policy, it was smart business. They were all business assassins and harnessed the unfairness of their situation to prove the point.I would pay them exactly what the guys were paid and they would tell me what that was. I never quibbled. I would run out of fingers on my hands telling you how successful this was. They made me look smart.What will make the marketplace change? Smart CEOs and intelligent assessment of where the talent in America is. Don’t work for anyone who doesn’t appreciate you — good advice for men and women.As to golf — I forced — FORCED — all my female executives to take golf lessons at my chi chi country club. The lessons were during the afternoon and included a burger and a beer or two.Handsome, tan assistant golf pros and good looking Texas girls with ponytails.They all learned to hang on the golf course, to shoot a decent score and to network like the guys. Some of them could shoot lights out.To this day I get a comment from one of them about how useful playing golf turned out to be. One claims she met her husband on the golf course — not quite sure I believe that.Many times in life, the answer is not to fight but to infiltrate. Get inside the other person’s head and give them a reason to be reasonable.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

    1. Gotham Gal

      you were obviously a giving CEO

      1. JLM

        .Ahh, here’s the rub. I was not a “giving” CEO. In fact, I would rate myself a bit backward on such subjects. It is not a natural fit for me.When I saw an entire industry networking on the golf course and my female execs not comfortable in that environment, I took selfish action to change that. Cost a bit of money but it was also a huge boost to morale.Your boss tells you you’ve got to go learn to play golf with a bunch of handsome young assistant golf pros at a very exclusive country club and then you have to participate in all the industry golf events but now you’re good at it.Not a poke in the eye with a sharp stick.One woman told me: ‘I love golf clothes.’I was a calculating CEO and the calculus told me that it was a good business idea. That is the big learning for all of us. It is not “enlightenment”, it is good business.This is why I say the battle has been won. It is apparent to me that hiring women is not an exercise in enlightenment but pure good business. Why cut the hiring pool in half?This is why when I see an effort to “assist” women I cringe a bit. All that has to be done is to demonstrate the real track record of women — it is attractive enough by itself.When you personally write about women entrepreneurs and I read their stories I say “yes”. I don’t need anything more and there is no advocacy in those stories — just well written, well researched stories that “show” the story rather than “telling” the story.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

  3. pointsnfigures

    My wife tried to setup a flex time arrangement when we had our first child. (1991) Big Pharma company said no way. By 1992, she had left the company. She was one of their top performing sales people.I do think things are different for women and it’s good to recognize that. At the same time, I am uncomfortable with the notion of mandating leadership change based on gender or race. I think that women make very different choices than men for a lot of different reasons–even when given the exact same opportunities.I wonder about big corps too. My gut says many of them just become massive bureaucratic monstrosities that are monoliths-hard to move out. There are some that will get unbundled (like HP). Many will go under, or go private. The 1980 Dow Jones looks nothing like the 2014 version. That’s a good thing.