— Sallie Krawcheck, former Wall Street executive and current CEO of Ellevest, as quoted in a report of research by BCG studying whether a lack of ambition is what makes women leave the workforce.
This observation is similar to comments made at the AWESOME Symposium in May, where some participants expressed the need to feel authentic, to be able to bring their “whole selves” to work and not tailor themselves to a culture that favors men. These AWESOME insights will be part of volume six of REALITY CHECK, the collective wisdom compiled by AWESOME and due out in September.
The BCG study of 200,000 respondents found that women start their careers with as much ambition as men. It also concludes that the desire to lead and advance is influenced by company culture and the “daily interactions, conversations and opportunities women have over time.”
Women and men were found to have the same level of ambition, as were women with and without children. Companies with more diversity were found to foster ambition in both men and women.
The report also lists four step companies can take to improve the culture:
Build a gender-diverse leadership team with the right role models.
This action involves instituting hiring and promoting policies that identify and eliminate any gender bias.
Change the informal context.
According to the report, the leadership environment at many companies can feel like “a familiar set of masculine tropes: backslapping, high fives (both figurative and literal), and trips to the cigar bar.”
Make and relentlessly promote structural changes such as flexible work.
“The data also shows that the main reason both men and women may be reluctant to advance at their company—cited by nearly 60% of both genders—is the challenge of meeting increased job responsibilities while managing outside commitments.”
Track progress and involve everybody.
“Companies should communicate their progress, celebrate both effort and outcomes, and identify where they still have work to do.”