Happiness At Work #64 – happiness & the working woman

In this week’s new Happiness At Work Edition #64 we have put the spotlight on some of the conditions, trends and issues that affect women’s happiness at work.  In doing this, in no way am I trying to suggest any kind of comprehensive study of the many conflicting and complex issues that might be specific to a woman’s happiness at work.  Rather, I have pulled together stories that relate to this theme and happen to be part of this week’s collection of stories.  It is a snapshot, and like any photo, it is incomplete, but not necessarily any less revealing because of this.

See what you think…

photo credit: TMAB2003 via photopin cc

photo credit: TMAB2003 via photopin cc

The Problem With A Masculine Corporate Culture

By Tina Vasquez

Robin Ely’s recent study, a collaboration with her colleague, Stanford University consulting professor Debra Meyerson, proves without a shadow of a doubt that an entire culture can dramatically shift when stripped of its traditional masculine identity.

Unmasking Manly Men: The Organizational Reconstruction of Men’s Identity” took Ely and Meyerson 130 miles off the coast of Southern Louisiana, landing them smack-dab in the middle of one of the toughest, most male-dominated work environments imaginable: an offshore oil platform. The manager of the oil rig had implemented innovative approaches to leadership development in order to reduce unsafe behaviors stereotypically associated with “macho” men, such as taking unnecessary risks, refusing to ask questions that make them appear vulnerable, and pressuring coworkers to prove themselves through acts of physical bravery. However, he wasn’t achieving an effective result.

He found that by stripping the oil rig away of its traditional masculine identity, there was a noticeable shift in the entire culture of the rig: communication improved, men listened to each other more, they learned from their mistakes, and placed more emphasis on teamwork.

So what does work on an oil rig have to do with corporate America? The concept of not just pushing against masculine leadership stereotypes, but dismantling them entirely can be transferred to the corporate landscape. This could be necessary if organizations continue conflating concepts of leadership competence with images of masculinity.

Ely says the research speaks to the question of how men construct identities in the workplace and the larger role organizations play in shaping this process. “In other research,” she says, “we have seen that conventional masculinity often becomes the performance standard, even when an alternative standard would be more beneficial to the organization, not to mention to women employees with an interest in career advancement.”

…As the only woman in a company, Rosalind has worked in environments where misogynistic behaviors permeate the workplace. Despite considering herself “one of the guys,” Rosalind has been in situations that were deeply upsetting and demeaning, like when a company president would call her into his office asking her to discuss a specific topic during a meeting, only to tear her apart during the meeting over the topic he privately asked her to discuss, embarrassing her in front of her peers.

“Unfortunately, putting up with this kind of behavior as a woman in the tech industry has become the cost of doing business,” Rosalind says. “Being one of the guys has been beneficial to my career, but just because it’s become normal for me, doesn’t mean other women will find this behavior normal. So many women leave because they can’t take it – and they shouldn’t have to. It’s not that women aren’t interested in science and technology as reports seem to suggest; it’s that they don’t like the constant feeling of being offended and denigrated. We’re training women to adapt or get out.”…

When the oil rigs in Ely and Meyerson’s study were stripped of masculine culture, productivity, efficiency, and reliability all increased dramatically, leaving us to wonder about the possibilities of masculine culture-free corporate workplaces. Upholding masculine culture, despite its potentially harmful effects, seems even more egregious when you consider that teams featuring an equal number of women are more productive, efficient, and cost-effective.

Ely says it’s the higher value we place on the attributes conventionally associated with men and masculinity and our association of such attributes with leadership that adversely affect women in the workplace…

“Organizations should ask themselves: To what extent do our norms and practices encourage men to prove their manhood, and how does such behavior, in fact, undermine what we are trying to accomplish?” Ely said. “Then and only then, companies need to change their cultures to reinforce behaviors that promote rather than undermine effectiveness and make what they are trying to accomplish so compelling and engaging for their employees that they want to make the shift.”

Link to read the story about this fascinating research in full

photo credit: Ken Lund via photopin cc

photo credit: Ken Lund via photopin cc

Retain Women – Retrain Brains!


It’s no secret that guys and gals lead differently. Less evident though is how to garner more female leader IQ.  Research affirms that guy-gal brains differ even during rest. We also see how teams with more women offer higher IQ.

So why does upper management often include men only? A better question perhaps, how can we retain gifted women leaders?

Here are 10 tips to higher leadership IQ:

1. Invent New Runways rather than Criticize Old Ruts. No question, it takes female facilitation skills to help mesh together gender differences…

2.  Inspire Wisdom for Blended Views. From boardrooms, to halls of government, to higher education, women tend to use and lead language processing skills in ways that motivate more symmetric activation across brain hemispheres…

3. Mentor for Mutual Benefits. …imagine a better balance as women leaders guide multiple intelligences into the mentoring mix…

4. Integrate Hard and Soft Skills.  Successful leaders craft insights with theiremotional intelligence, and also add logical action plans for mind-bending results…

5. Collaborate for Cross-Gender Solutions. …Imagine universities that attract more men to fill gender gaps and remove test bias for female access…

6. Shift Training from Delivery to Interactive. …through consistent interaction, women tend to hook complex facts onto people’s familiar experiences, so that more learning occurs in less time…

7. Act on New Discoveries. Hebbian workers wire their brains to kill incentives, limit focus or even shrink mental capacity with sameness, such as males only in top leader positions. Plasticity enables people of all ages and backgrounds to rewire the human brain by acting on new insights…

8. Listen with Your Brain. See how women emulate logical nuances from men they respect.  In similar ways, watch men navigate conflicts after observing women’s intrapersonal or emotional intelligence in action. New research shows hunches that power both men and women’s brains…

9. Capitalize on Research. Men and women lead differently, partly because hormones play a large part in cognitive operations. And new high-tech scientific study shows we can learn from marked differences between men and women under stress…

10. Risk Differences. …Brain imaging techniques show that even when men and women perform the same tasks equally well, they draw on different parts of the brain to do so. Let’s risk leadership that includes as many women as men as our starting ground…

Link to read this story in full

photo credit: h.koppdelaney via photopin cc

photo credit: h.koppdelaney via photopin cc

The Rise of Compassionate Management (Finally)

by Bronwyn Frye

Don’t look now, but all of a sudden the topic of compassionate management is becoming trendy.

A growing number of business conferences are focusing in on the topic of compassion at work…

While the importance of compassion at work has long been touted by scholars like Peter Senge,Fred KofmanJane Dutton and others as a foundational precept of good management, managers of the traditional, critical, efficiency-at-all-costs stripe have scoffed. This isn’t surprising: given the number of nasty managers still sitting at the top of organizations, it’s easy to assume that the compassionate ones don’t often get hired, let alone encouraged and promoted. In fact, a Notre Dame study found that nice guys really do finish last, with more agreeable people earning less than those who are willing to be disagreeable. And all too often, compassionate people lack boundaries, thus allowing themselves to be used and abused; they become “toxic handlers” who absorb the organizational pain without much personal gain.

But something in the zeitgeist is changing…

To manage compassionately doesn’t come naturally to most managers. It requires spending the time to walk in someone else’s shoes — to understand what kind of baggage that person is bringing to work; what kinds of stresses she’s under; what her strengths and weaknesses are. In high-pressure environments, such a time investment is anathema to most of us. But such an investment is analogous to the work of a carpenter who carefully measures a piece of wood three times before cutting once: spending such “compassion time” with an employee pays off in that person’s much greater efficiency, productivity and effectiveness (and obviates later regrets).

It’s not just altruism: as it turns out, companies that practice conscious capitalism perform ten times better than companies that don’t…

Link to read this story in full

photo credit: Abi Booth via photopin cc

photo credit: Abi Booth via photopin cc

The Woman Problem and the Future of Business


…With every passing year, each new piece of research adds detail to what most people in the corporate world know already: there are not enough women in senior leadership positions.  The larger the organization, the more true this fact is.  In recent years in America and England, amongst other developed economies, it seems to be getting worse, not better.

…Why do so many excellent women choose to take the career off-ramp, and why are so many of them paid less than their male counterparts for the same work?  There are some compelling answers available, including how women don’t negotiate as well as men for their salaries and how they still sacrifice more than men when they have children and families.

As a father of three daughters and husband of one brilliant wife, this issue is of more than mere passing interest to me.  But my interest is not so much in the causes and effects, but rather in what it tells us about the state of business and what it might portend for the future.  This is more than just an issue of justice or equality: it gets to the heart of future success and viability for many organizations.

…To help companies make sense of the world they’re in, our team looks for key trends that are defining the near future.  Some recent research by the Hawaii Research Center for Future Studies (http://www.futures.hawaii.edu/), led by world-renowned futurist, Jim Dator, identified four key megatrends for 2020:

  1. Accelerating non-linear change
  2. Increasing inter-dependence
  3. Increasing complexity
  4. Expanding emphasis on difference.

…One of the main reasons that women are not making it into senior leadership positions is because they don’t want to.  It’s not a capability issue; it’s a choice.  And the reason they’re choosing not to is because they don’t want to play a man’s game in a man’s world.

…many women who have made it to the top understand that this is a man’s world and that they have to think and act like men to get to the top.  There’s nothing wrong with this choice, and well done to them for doing this so well.  But the problem is for their companies.  If you accept, as I do, that having different worldviews represented on a team is a good and valuable thing, then the danger is to look around a team and think you have diversity when in fact you do not.  Having three women, two Asians, one homosexual, two French speakers, three youths, five Catholics, or whatever other categories you’re measuring is no good if all of those people are actually thinking and acting like middle-aged, middle-class, private school educated white men (or whatever your company’s prevailing culture happens to be).

This type of cultural hegemony is too common in organizations.  And I believe it is one of the main reasons that organizations are battling to adjust to this new world we’re living in now, where uncertainty and turbulence are the new normal.

When it comes to leadership in the world, women have always had a rough deal.  But the tide is turning.  As we head further into the uncharted waters of the 21st century, it is becoming increasingly apparent that a new set of skills and attitudes is required to be successful in leading an organization.  And many women seem to naturally possess these skills.  The workplace is changing fast.  A new generation of employees is looking for something different at work.  A new generation of customers is looking for something different in the marketplace.  And that difference will be disproportionately enhanced by the feminine touch.  And that’s why it’s a problem if women are compelled to act like men.

…It’s time to ensure that we implement strategies to make the board rooms and executive suites of our companies conducive to a feminine influence.  This is not easy work, but it is vital. Its time to let the ladies lead their way.  How we achieve this will look different in different contexts, and there is no simple 1-2-3 approach that will work everywhere.  But the first step is to accept that women not making it into senior leadership positions in significant numbers is a problem and a strategic issue your company needs to address, not just because you’re trying to fulfill some diversity checklist, but because the very future of your business is at stake.  Make this a strategic issue for the right reasons, and you will reap a fine – and feminine – reward in the future.

Link to read the full unedited version of this article

Following Your Passion: The Happy Truth About the Gender Pay Gap


…If you want true professional fulfillment, choose a field or a job because it is your passion. And then, work to be paid equitably. Unless you are born into a wealthy family or marry rich, you will spend the majority of your life working. The average full-time employee spends 65-75% of a year working, and that is far too much time to be doing something you don’t love. And I am a firm believer that if you follow your passion, the money will come.

The ideal balance is a job that is fulfilling AND pays a competitive wage. Closing the gender pay gap is not about taking the most high-paying job, it is about ensuring that women are paid commensurately with their male counterparts in whatever they chose to do.

Link to read this article in full

photo credit: Victor1558 via photopin cc

photo credit: Victor1558 via photopin cc

Boards Remain Pale, Male and Stale – Old Boys’ Club Alive and Well

Mike Myatt, writes

…In 2012, women held just 16.6 percent of board seats at Fortune 500 companies. Given this number, is it possible CEOs and boards see no value in diversity? I don’t think so, but it is very possible they are all too comfortable with the status quo. Absent outside pressure, why would a CEO want to disrupt a compliant board they have likely gone to great pains to assemble? Well, therein lies the problem. Sound board governance isn’t about making life easy; it’s about challenging the status quo.

In my new book, Hacking Leadership I spend a great deal of time discussing how to improve culture, performance and sustainability by dismantling the status quo at every level of the organization – particularly at the top of the house.  Embracing status quo quickly leads to mediocrity, and my contention has always been leadership exists to disrupt mediocrity. Great leadership abhors tunnel vision and values diversity of thought and experience.

…My bottom line is this – corporations cannot appropriately represent the constituencies they serve until they are representatively led by members of those same constituencies. It is impossible to understand and engage in a meaningful fashion where those deserving a voice are denied a seat at the table. I’m not advocating for selecting directors who are anything other than the best person for the job, but we should all recognize the best person for the job is not universally a 56 year old, Ivy League educated, white male.

Link to read this article in full

photo credit: Pensiero via photopin cc

photo credit: Pensiero via photopin cc

Three Steps To A Shorter Working Week

ANNA COOTE writes in the new economics foundation blog

What’s a ‘normal’ working week? Forty hours is pretty standard for full-time workers in the UK, but suppose it were 30 hours instead?

Our new book, Time on Our Sideargues that a shorter, more flexible working week would be good for people, for the environment and for the economy. Why? Because it is often extremely stressful to work long hours and that is bad for health. For many of us, our working hours leave us too little time to be parents, carers and active citizens. There’s strong evidence that people who work longer hours have a larger ecological footprint.

As well as the personal benefits, cutting the length of the working week would help to safeguard natural resources and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It would also help to manage a sustainable economy by creating more jobs and cutting unemployment…

Link to read this article in full

Step Away From The Roller-Coaster


…I realize it’s easy in a way; this endless doing, doing, doing. It’s easy to sit in the constant process of connecting, responding, replying and reaching in, because in a way, it makes us feel that if we’re not here, things would crumble without us. And who doesn’t want to feel that their part in it all is absolutely critical and irreplaceable?

What’s not so easy is being still.

Of course as a working mother of four, there is always a lot that needs to be done. The list is ever-present, never-ending. But at the same time, there is no “done.” And whether we work for ourselves or for a company or work at home, that is true and is made more true by our incessant ability to connect. But I realize too, for both my work and my parenting, it’s necessary to also not do. It’s necessary to stop my buzzing body, mind, hands and fill my proverbial cup with quiet, calm, breath after breath after breath, new ideas, solutions that only come from stillness and answers that arrive only when they are granted space.

From this lesson I am calling myself a revelationist. I am trying more and more to create these moments of stillness so that I can have more revelations about the ways, whys and hows of everything I do — whether it’s parenting or writing or creating or any of it. It’s hard, sometimes, to convince myself of the merits of not “doing” all the time. But when I do? It fills me, which in turn fills my family and my work and my head and my total overall well-being.

I urge you, if just once in your busy day, where there is so much to do and there are so many people to see and endless tasks on your list, I urge you to look for that tiny window of time that can be filled with nothing at all.

And you can be a revelationist too.

Link to read this article in full

photo credit: halle via photopin cc

photo credit: halle via photopin cc

Multitasking: What’s the Productivity Cost?

Jan Hills writes…

The multitasking myth

Neuroscience has shown that the concept of multitasking is a myth. What we are actually doing is jumping between two or more tasks. When we shift back and forth there is a productivity cost for each shift. If you don’t believe me try this test. With a stop watch measure how long it takes you to count from one to 10. Now do the same thing except saying the alphabet from A to J. Now put the two together, alternately saying a letter and a number.A1, B2, etc. Measure your time. It will be more than twice as much as the single task because the brain slows down when it has to keep switching between numbers and letters. For most people the first two tasks probably took about two seconds each. For the mixed, switching task it typically takes fifteen to twenty seconds. On top of slowing down working memory gets fatigued and you may find you also forget where you were in the task depending on how stressed or how much you have been using your brain today. If you are not convinced here are examples of research…

Link to read this story in full

photo credit: drewleavy via photopin cc

photo credit: drewleavy via photopin cc

Do You Worry Too Much?  7 Ways Worrying Sabotages Your Career

Melanie Haiken writes…

If women  want to be seen as a strong leaders in the workplace, they need to stop worrying so much. That’s the conclusion of a recent report by CDR Assessment Group, which creates leadership assessment tools for executive management. The report and its related white paper, titled “Cracking the Code to the Glass Ceiling,” purport to measure risk factors that can affect success in the workplace.

The assessment found that a large percentage of women – close to 65 percent – fall into the risk category CDR calls the “Worrier,” a risk that the report suggests may contribute to women’s seeming inability to break through the so-called glass ceiling.

Men, meanwhile, commonly fall into other risk categories such as “egotists,” “rule breakers” and “upstagers.” The problem, according to CDR’s analysis, is that those risk factors don’t necessarily hamper career success the way being a worrier does…

…despite the non-scientific nature of this rather opinionated report, let’s accept for now that women do tend to be plagued by more worry and self-doubt than men. Why is that such a problem? Here are seven possible reasons that worry may be hindering your climb to the top….

Link to read this article in full

photo credit: MTSOfan via photopin cc

photo credit: MTSOfan via photopin cc

Have Things Gotten Worse For Working Women?

…A lot of women my age and in my position who want to have children — or even, like me, think maybe they’ll want to someday — have a similar schedule in the back of their minds. I have more than one friend whose mother has hinted that she should think about freezing her eggs. I know the many people who tell young women to plan the timing of their pregnancies carefully mean well. But I resent it.

Not only is it stressful to feel like I’m in a race for success against my own body, but it also reinforces the very gender dynamics that put professional women in such a tough spot. Telling women — and only women — that they need to start planning for their families 10 years in advance assumes the current structure of the workplace as a given and lets men off the hook. Things really will get worse if we keep telling ambitious women about how hard their future will be at the same time that we leave the underlying gender dynamics and cultural expectations that make things so hard unexamined.

I understand why women in the generation before me felt betrayed. They were told they could have everything and then found that they were expected to do everything. But I really hope the best solution to that problem isn’t just to warn young women to gird themselves against the upcoming battle. It’s discouraging, and it risks sidelining women long before they face any concrete challenges. Maybe it’s because I’m young, but I’m still optimistic that we can find an alternative solution in strengthening men’s stake in work-family issues and developing a realistic model of professional commitment. While men may not have the same biological constraints as me, many of them love women who do. It’s not fair to expect young women to deal with the weight of this issue on our own, and it’s frankly unrealistic to expect that we can do so and also compete on equal footing with men….

Link to read this article in full

photo credit: zabethanne via photopin cc

photo credit: zabethanne via photopin cc

In the Name of Honour: Artists Speak Out On Gender-Based Violence in New Exhibition

High profile artists from around the world including Tracey Emin, Chris Ofili and Paula Rego have donated artworks to an exhibition in aid of raising money for victims of domestic abuse.

The exhibition, titled In the Name of Honour, addresses gender issues including the representation of the female body, human trafficking and honour-based violence.

In the Name of Honour runs from 19-22 September at One Mayfair, 13A N Audley Street, London W1; admission free.

Click here for rest of story plus images from the exhibition

photo credit: Stuck in Customs via photopin cc

photo credit: Stuck in Customs via photopin cc

The Science and Philosophy of Friendship: Lessons from Aristotle on the Art of Connecting


…in today’s cultural landscape of muddled relationships scattered across various platforms for connecting, amidst constant debates about whether our Facebook “friendships” are making us more or less happy, it pays to consider what friendship actually is. That’s precisely what CUNY philosophy professor Massimo Pigliucci explores in Answers for Aristotle: How Science and Philosophy Can Lead Us to A More Meaningful Life…

…The way friendship enhances well-being, it turns out, has nothing to do with quantity and everything to do with quality — researchers confirm that it isn’t the number of friends (or, in the case of Facebook, “friends”) we have, but the nature of those relationships:

In particular, what makes for a good happiness-enhancing friendship is the degree of companionship (when you do things together with your friends) and of self-validation (when your friends reassure you that you are a good, worthy individual).

This is where Aristotle comes in: He recognized three types of love — agape,eros, and philia — which endure as an insightful model for illuminating the nature of our relationships. Pigliucci describes the taxonomy:

Agape is a broad kind of love, the kind that religious people feel that God has for us, or that a secular person may have for humanity at large. Eros, naturally, is more concerned with the type of love we have for sexual partners, though the Greeks meant it more broadly than we do. Philia is the type of love that concerns us here because it includes the sort of feelings we have for friends, family, and even business partners.

…what it really boils down to is that friendship affords us a more dimensional way of looking at ourselves and at the world, thus enhancing our understanding of the meaning of life. Once again, Pigliucci takes us back to Aristotle:

Aristotle’s opinion was that friends hold a mirror up to each other; through that mirror they can see each other in ways that would not otherwise be accessible to them, and it is this (reciprocal) mirroring that helps them improve themselves as persons. Friends, then, share a similar concept of eudaimonia[Greek for “having a good demon,” often translated as “happiness”] and help each other achieve it. So it is not just that friends are instrumentally good because they enrich our lives, but that they are an integral part of what it means to live the good life, according to Aristotle and other ancient Greek philosophers (like Epicurus). Of course, another reason to value the idea of friendship is its social dimension. In the words of philosopher Elizabeth Telfer, friendship provides “a degree and kind of consideration for others’ welfare which cannot exist outside…

Link to read this story in full

Sallie Krawcheck Is Back

Sallie Krawcheck talks to Forbes about success, failure and what it takes to start over. From the Forbes Women’s Summit in NYC.

Does being happy help you earn more?

An economist at the University of Western Sydney has analysed the effect of happiness on income inequality


Does being happy make you more likely to earn more? The answer is yes, according to Professor Satya Paul, an economist at the University of Western Sydney.

…Extrapolated to percentages, he suggests that for every 1% increase in happiness there’s a 0.056% increase in income.

Interestingly, there’s also a negative effect of happiness on income – the number of hours worked. A one point rise in happiness results in a loss of $27.41 because of fewer hours worked – that is, people who are more satisfied with life are willing to trade work for leisure.

Paul suggests the increase in income resulting from higher happiness is a result of happier people being more efficient in earning activities. Or, to put it more simply, happier people are better workers.

And here is some irresistible fun for all of us who have some knowledge of our Myers-Briggs Profile:

Harry Potter Characters’ Myers-Briggs Types: Which One Are You?!

…an awesome infographic that covers all of the “Harry Potter” characters’ Myers-Briggs personality types..

photo credit: Jesse Draper via photopin cc

photo credit: Jesse Draper via photopin cc

Link to where you can find all of these stories, and many more, this week’s new collection; Happiness At Work Edition #64

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