Flexibility is the New Leadership

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Author: Maggie Walsh

It goes without saying that the career landscape for women has changed substantially from the generation of working baby boomers to working millennials. Our moms, and the women before them had to fight to crack that corporate glass ceiling with fewer options than we have, while battling even more societal restraints. By contrast, modern millennial women were more likely to have grown up with a working mom, have had a female hero or mentor, and were probably told repeatedly that they can do “anything they put their mind to.”

Millennial women are looking for careers that promote the elusive work-life balance. A study of 7,700 millennials commissioned by Deloitte found that “women place greater emphasis on flexible working opportunities and the ability to derive a sense of meaning from their work.” Being in the millennial category myself, I can attest that I and most of my friends and family, would gladly accept a flex schedule option, work-from-home-Fridays, or any non-traditional scheduling perk, over almost any reasonable monetary incentive an employer could offer.

Flexibility (of schedule, of location, of responsibilities) from an employer is worth more to us than the corner office, outstanding benefits or the extra cash on payday. Millennial women see our careers more as a means to enjoy our lives rather than the whole of our identity and worth.

What’s more, the women whose careers we admire aren’t necessarily the ones who land the CEO position of a Fortune 500 company (although women like Marissa Mayer kick ass). We envy the travel blogger who is able to make ends meet while living a full and interesting life; we look up to the consultants and freelancers who can schedule their work projects around important family events and long weekends; and we aspire to work in companies that allow us to dictate our time and invest our energy into projects we love outside of work.

Flexible careers, free from the restraints of the clock and the cubicle, are more realistic and more appealing than ever. Technology has changed literally everything about the working world - creating jobs that didn’t previously exist, increasing efficiency - thereby decreasing time invested, and not to mention establishing an environment where artistic efforts can be monetized with things like graphic design or an Etsy business. Modern life has proven that ‘Instagram influencer’ is an actual (lucrative) career, that it is possible to work from wherever there is Wi-Fi, and that you can cobble together a decent living by working in an office part-time and freelancing on the side.

Which is not to say that millennials are vapid plastics whose only dream is to become a Flat Tummy Tea peddler on Instagram (not that there’s anything wrong with that!). I think leadership means something different and manifests in different ways for our generation. Leadership is giving yourself a voice on social media, participating in important movements, marching with other women, or simply creating work and developing a life for ourselves in which ownership of our time and effort is in our own hands. We can do that by cultivating a career that leaves space for leadership in other ways, in other parts of our lives other than in the confines of the office.

Millennial women are just as ambitious as the generations before us, resulting in 40% of American households having the woman as the primary breadwinner, according to Pew Center analysis of U.S. Census data. And to date, 390 women are planning to run for the House of Representatives – a number that is higher than any previous time in history*. Millennial women are as invested in achievement and being #girlbosses (do we still say that?) as we ever were. But instead of being focused on climbing the corporate ladder, we’re working to do it on our own terms.

 

Finding Success as a Woman

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Author: Maggie Walsh

Climbing the corporate ladder has been the traditional model for career success for hundreds of years. You start at the bottom, and through hard work and dedication, get to the top. Unfortunately, this process has only been open to women in the last several decades, and men still vastly outnumber women in top leadership positions. Only 25% of American executive and senior-level positons, and merely 6% of CEO positions belong to women (source: americanprogress.org).

Career women feel just as pressured as men to be in positions of leadership to measure their success. To manage employees, teams, departments, or even a whole company is a necessary step to achieve the top positions. So, what gives? Are women not given the same opportunities as men? Do women opt-out of careers in order to tend to their families? Are women satisfied reaching a certain point of responsibility and leadership and staying there? All of the above.

A pillar of modern feminism is that our foremothers fought to give us something they did not have – choices. Freedom to choose to work, or to stay at home, or to do a little of both. Some women encounter roadblocks in the career climb - from the birth of a child, an inability to find safe and cost-effective child care, or by encountering gender bias in their work place. Today’s women take on those roadblocks, get creative, and redefine success on their own terms.

Some women find their success in the corner office, while others feel successful - not by traditional markers like money or leadership - but by doing what they love, or by giving themselves the room to nurture other parts of their lives through freelancing or working part-time. As a full-time working mom who is currently in a leadership position - I value my children, and I value my career. Here’s the but: I would not want to be in the type of leadership position that was so demanding that I felt I wasn’t giving enough of myself to my children. Will that hold me back? Probably. Am I comfortable with that? Absolutely.

I am grateful for the tenacious women who have paved the way through the corporate jungle. We need their strength and their mentorship. I firmly believe the more women there are in leadership positions to guide other women, the better it is for all of us. But that’s not the only way to success. Women can find success by choosing alternate paths that allow them to pursue passions without the confines of a 9-to-5. “Women see gig work as the opportunity to level the playing field - 86% believe gig work opens the door to equal pay, only 45% believe traditional jobs offer the same opportunity” (source: USA Today).

The beauty of being alive today is that we are the change, and we are creating the blueprint for our children to find success however they want, and not by conventional measures. The women who have achieved a high level of career success set an amazing example of leadership. Just like the women who are forging non-traditional paths. Both are equally successful. We should all choose to measure ourselves within our own parameters of life success, whatever those personal measures may be – not necessarily by a number on a paycheck or a title on a business card.

 

Photo: Studio Caw

 

The Pledge for Inclusion and Opportunity

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Outdoor Industry Taking Action to Address Lack of Women Leadership

We all know how much of a boys club it can be once women reach leadership positions. The disproportionate number of female CEOs created a movement specifically in the outdoor industry, a push to close that gap so to speak. We’ve heard a lot of talk in this arena, but have they lived up to their hype?

Three years ago, Camber Outdoors took the initiative not only to recognize this problem but to address it. Their “CEO Pledge”, a commitment by outdoor industries to make it easier for women to mobilize through the ranks, made it their goal to have a better representation of women CEOs.

Jerry Stritzke, CEO of outdoor giant REI, noted that the outdoor industry specifically presented problems for women who were trying to move up.

“What became obvious to me in the outdoor industry is that the opportunity to network into leadership roles probably didn’t exist in the way that it did in the other environments that I had been in,” Stritzke noted when recently asked about the CEO Pledge.

Since the CEO Pledge was created three years ago, other major players, such as REI, signed the pledge and taken action toward fixing the disparity problem.

For businesses like REI, the push to get women into more leadership positions was an easy decision. Women make up a large portion of consumers of outdoor equipment. It simply makes sense to give them that representation by allowing more opportunity for women in leadership roles. A win-win-win if you will.

Outdoor Industries are Leading the Way

In terms of action, there’s no doubt that the outdoor industry is one of the leaders in striving toward equality. The CEO Pledge has already been signed by a total of 75 different outdoor businesses, and more are starting to join the effort.

Businesses like REI are even holding events that promote women moving into leadership roles.

But there is still work to be done. Women make up roughly 46 percent of outdoor enthusiasts, yet they make up less than 20 percent of the leadership positions in the outdoor industry. Not as much disparity as other industries, but the gap exists nonetheless. By recognizing the problem at least, and giving women the opportunities to further their career and broaden their network, gradual change will occur.

This push might not solve gender inequality in leadership entirely, it could however permanently change the culture of the outdoor industry. Imagine how this could drive sales and ultimately transform the outdoor industry into an all inclusive, not to mention lucrative, playing field.

 

 

 

Photo: Zululand Observer

Leadership Resources for Women in Fashion

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Author: Cammy Pedroja

You don’t rise and grind every morning to be ordinary. Still, who says you have to succeed in the fashion business without any help? Check out our carefully curated list of resources for professional women who have their sights set as high as 1990s hemlines.   

 

Business of Fashion Education

You may already be familiar with the British-based organization and publication, The Business of Fashion. But did you know that in 2018 they’re offering a killer selection of online courses (called BoF Masterclasses) on need-to-know subjects from how to build your own beauty brand to nailing the art and science of buying and merchandising for your fashion company? Now you do.

Catalyst

This powerhouse organization is aimed not only at supporting women in their workplaces but is also concerned with helping workplaces work for women. In addition to providing online learning courses and materials for individuals, via their knowledge center, Catalyst also does consulting and training for businesses on how to support, retain, and take full advantage of their female talent.

Camber Outdoors: Resources and Women Role Models

Historically, women have been left out of the pack when it comes to the business of outdoor adventure and the more rugged side of athletics apparel. That’s why Camber Outdoors’ commitment to connecting and championing female talent is so refreshing. From networking events, to a curated job board, to mentorship, to a coveted women’s leadership award, you’ll love what they do.

Lean In Education

Named after the bestselling book by Sheryl Sandberg, the Lean In Organization is a network of women from over 150 countries that support each other’s passions and careers. Members meet routinely in smaller regional groups and prop each other up with advice, encouragement, and resource-sharing.

Girlboss Academy

Started by Sophia Amoruso, the founder of Nasty Gal (and yes, the subject of the short-lived Netflix show) this online learning hotspot offers access to top female mentors “…over 40 hours of talks, panels, keynotes, and workshops from renowned creatives, entrepreneurs, and thought leaders.”   

WIFI: Women in the Footwear Industry

Part of the very cool Two Ten Footwear Foundation, WIFI’s founding mission is to “harnesses the collective power of women in the industry to support each other, advance the cause of the Two Ten Footwear Foundation, and to create a strong sense of community.” Not content to let the footwear industry function like a boys’ club, WIFI founders Diane Sullivan and Carol Baiocchi, are now at the head of over 4000 members who have access to mentorship programs, bi-annual national enrichment events, and the support of local chapters in addition to distance learning.

 

 

Photo: Pinterest

How Women are Carving Out Success of Their Own

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By: Cammy Pedroja

Haven’t found a job where you get to flex your skills and creativity while getting paid like a boss? Join the movement and create your own. At least that's what women today have been turning to in large numbers.

 

In a corporate climate where women have historically faced some pretty lopsided statistical barriers to scoring leadership positions, the tectonic plates of power are beginning to shift. In 2016, two out of five new businesses were founded by women, and from 2016 to 2017 women at the head of new business ventures grew worldwide. This inclination is likely to continue in 2018, partly due to a trend of daring women sidestepping the traditional corporate ladder route and putting themselves at the helm of their own ventures.

Look at it this way: currently, female CEOs only make about 7% of Fortune 1000 companies. So, if you see that a system isn’t working for people like you, would you try your luck toiling at the bottom, or would you take the reins into your own hands and reach for your career dreams on your own power?

Up to the Challenge

On last year’s CNBC Upstart 25, a list of the most promising startups published for the first time in February of 2017, a surprising 40% of the new companies featured were founded and run by women. Now that this year’s list is nearing its release date, it’s likely that even more promising female bosses will be featured, as we’re smack in the middle of a female entrepreneurial boom. In fashion and retail, however, where you might expect female talent to get more clout than in other industries, the growth rate of women owned businesses still trails all the other industries analyzed by the 2017 State of Women-Owned Businesses Report.

So, what can those who work in the fashion world do to increase the number of women on top in the field? Hire them. Recognize their strong work. Mentor them; and promote them. And in the case of those talented women who want to make their own way, fund them. Even though women are going into business for themselves in record numbers, they are still being funded at markedly lower levels than their male counterparts. Boo.

Betting on the Female Future

But wait, there’s still good news for equality on the horizon, as female resilience strikes again. Even with the knowledge that they may face more difficult challenges than male founders, the ladies are still betting on themselves and starting their own business at increasing rates, regardless of the lopsided funding flow. The Female Entrepreneurs Institute now estimates about 1000 women are starting their own businesses every day. So, tell us—how will you support this intrepid movement of girl bosses?

 

Need Help with Retention? This Could Be the Key

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By: Anna Jones

Beyoncé, in song-form, once asked, “Who run the world?” and of course, answered herself with the resounding and apropos hook, “Girls.” Women have proven time and time again to be effective leaders - study by the Harvard Business Review, even scoring higher than men in the leadership department, according to a study by the Harvard Business Review

 

Maybe Beyoncé was onto something. In fact, the aforementioned study shows that men only scored higher than women in one key area: developing strategic perspective. The reason being, states HBR, is “top leaders always score significantly higher in this competency; since more top leaders are men, men still score higher here in the aggregate.” So, in this case, men won by default (to be fair, we fully believe in the value of both male and female leaders and the different qualities each brings to the table - diversity, people, that’s all we’re saying!).

In studies from management consulting firm McKinsey, there are nine key leadership workplace behaviors that improve overall performance: “participative decision-making; role model; inspiration; expectations and rewards; people development; intellectual stimulation; efficient communication; individualistic decision-making; and control and corrective action.” McKinsey states that “women apply five of these nine leadership behaviors more frequently than men.” Women tend to shine in people development. It makes sense: with employees being one of the main pillars of business, development is essential to a burgeoning bottom line.

Women take the time to listen, develop, and take part in mentoring relationships - aka people development. Female leaders also focus much of their energy on being role models for their employees. Commitment to changing dynamics within a company, along with strong leadership skills; these leaders are effectively able to retain top talent and have a competitive edge, which ultimately gives their respective companies an overall competitive edge in the marketplace.

Folks want to work under good management that is committed to mentoring and talent growth as opposed to utilizing control and corrective action. We would even go as far as to say that employees thrive under this type of leadership. Recent studies by executive coach David Rock and neuroscientist Jeffrey Schwartz, stated that there are several motivators that influence employees’ behavior more so than money. Many of these motivators are simply based on feelings, i.e., the feeling of autonomy, feelings of relatedness and fairness, and the perception of having your status elevated by a job role. Since women take a mentorship attitude in their leadership and are great listeners, this makes them effective motivators, able to manage employee expectations and goals. 

It is somewhat ironic that listening, understanding, and investing time in an employee can be often seen as a leader’s weakness or as hurting the company, when studies show that it is clearly quite the opposite. How many of us have failed at a job, because of poor management, or because our bosses refused to listen or to take on a mentoring role? For example, a bad manager may hire an Executive Assistant, and fire him or her within a matter of weeks, because they “just don’t get it,” or they’re “not the right fit.” But if that manager had taken the time to thoroughly explain the ins and outs of the work environment and viewed their role as a mentor rather than a parent scolding a naughty child, then perhaps the EA would have thrived or even made vertical moves, as opposed to staying stagnant, being let go, or quitting. With knowledge that appears almost intrinsic to their success, perhaps women put in leadership roles could truly run the world.

 

Photo by Breather on Unsplash

When it Comes to Leadership, the Personal Touch Matters

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By: Lana Rafaela Cindric

We all want to be treated as people first, employees second. Sometimes it’s easy for that to slip through the cracks and make us feel like we are just the cogs that turn the profit-making machine.  After all, who hasn’t complained about the daily grind?

 

However, that’s no longer enough and the focus in corporations and smaller companies alike has shifted from money to mission.

This is where nonprofits and organizations truly shine. They put people first.

It’s time we learned from their example.

Growth through Connection:
Two Ten’s Women In the Footwear Industry

Every company needs to generate revenue. What makes a difference is whether it’s got a 20/20 vision when it comes to the world at large.

Two Ten's Women In the Footwear Industry is a great example of a personal touch done right.

In June, the Seattle, Boston and New York chapters of the organization known for connecting women in the footwear industry organized wine-tasting events. The main focus was on educating women about wine so they would feel comfortable ordering it in front of colleagues and partners.

At first glance, it may seem trivial but note the mention of women feeling comfortable. That’s a great 21st century example of a people-oriented leadership style that recognizes the value of thoughts, emotions and intuition in running a business. These finer aspects are important but often overlooked, and Two Ten’s WIFI recognizes that.

Leadership and, consequently, management should be three-dimensional: striving to achieve tasks, benefiting the world and valuing the people who do it.

The main positive practices to adopt from WIFI’s example are:

  • Encourage the sharing of knowledge between industry professionals and new entrepreneurs in order to overcome barriers to entry and encourage cooperation

  • Pay attention to the finer things like business etiquette to smooth out the process

  • Provide space for communication and discussion in order to generate new ideas and passion for the company’s mission

Diversity with Thought Leadership: Camber Outdoors

Ideas are what makes every business turn. By giving diverse thinkers and businesswomen the opportunity to speak their mind, the chances for better idea-generation grow exponentially.

Camber Outdoors is an organization dedicated to achieving women’s equality in the outdoor industries. What Camber knows is that the world is thirsty for new ideas. And you can’t generate them with the same old way of thinking.  

By connecting CEOs and companies, and influencing their leadership styles through exchanges and thought-leader programs, Camber is actively creating better company cultures to work in.

They also cultivate leadership through seminars and mentoring programs, allowing both new leaders and the established ones to share ideas and work together for a common goal.

While their emphasis may be on women’s equality in the outdoor industries, Camber Outdoors achieves much more through a few guiding principles:

  • Create a diverse forum with a multitude of ideas to drive innovation

  • Actively create great company cultures by working with employees and employers

  • Cultivate healthy leadership through thought-exchange and cooperation

Sustainable Leadership

In nonprofits and organizations, leadership isn’t just encouraged – it is cultivated.

In order for any business to succeed, it needs a healthy environment for ideas to grow. By allowing for the personal aspects and communication, we create a sustainable future for both our businesses and the people taking part in them.

And like any healthy environment, it needs room to breathe and space to grow.

Nonprofits and organizations know that already. Maybe we should take a page from their book.

 

 

Photo: Camber Outdoors