W.O.M.E.N.

W.O.M.E.N.

Happy Women’s Day to all women around the world! However, is it happy? Unfortunately, the situation of women is not acceptable at all because many crimes against women are commited. Besides, women face serious social and work life barriers, and two of them are gender inequality and exclusion of women. Because of these women have not been given equal opportunities to be active perticipants in social and worklife. Recently, this has been changing, and more women professionals are in the workforce. Moreover, despite their limited number, there are some famous and powerful women academicians, CEOs and entrepreneurs. It is time to comprehend that women are equal to men, and they have the potential to positively contribute to the development of our world.

W.
Why are women so important? Because they are half of the worlds’ population. The current female population is 49,6 %. If women – who account for half the world’s working-age population – do not achieve their full economic potential, the global economy will suffer. According to McKinsey Global Institute (MGI) report “The power of parity: How advancing women’s equality can add $12 trillion to global growth”, the economic implications of lack of equality between men and women will result in loses not only for women but all people.

O.
Obviously, women are important for the economic sustainability of our world. Taking into consideration this fact many women should be given the opportunity to work and hold professional, managerial and top level leadership positions. The discussion of women in business and management should be started by giving tribute to three outstanding women who envisioned and wrote about some important present day managerial and leadership practices.

Lillian Gilbreth is known as “The First Lady of Management” because of her great achievements in the field of management. Considering the time period when Lillian Gilbreth lived, she was one of the very few women to be so well educated. She had obtained her PhD, and she was made a professor of management, the first woman to hold such an appointment. She taught at many American Universities and lectured throughout the world. Lillian Gilbreth was very active in the application of management practices, and she was very influential in issuing some legislations. Her impact on the field of management is immense. Lillian Gilbreth brought the human factor into scientific management through her training, insight and understanding. She characterized three historical styles of management which are traditional, transitory and scientific, and she compared and contrasted these three styles according to how they affected individuality, functionalization, measurement, analysis, synthesis, teaching, incentives and welfare. She made contributions in several areas, such as the application of management and motion study techniques to the home, rehabilitation of the handicapped, elimination of fatigue, and the use of leisure time to create ‘‘happiness minutes’’. I am so proud that Lillian Gilbreth, a woman, pioneered in the field of Human Resources Management which I am very passionate about. She was interested in the scientific selection, placement and training of workers. More than 50 years ago, she publicly urged an end to discrimination in both hiring and retention of workers over 40. Convinced that programs to hire and train ‘‘older’’ workers were simply ‘‘good business,’’ she called for research to measure comparative job performance by age. I do not know if such researches have been conducted, but I know that there is an urgent need because of the demographical changes around the world, and the increase in the number of employees over 40.

According to Sir Peter Parker, Mary Follett is the “Mother of Modern Management”. Although not a PhD graduate, she was very well educated. She was intersted in a wide variety of subjects such as philosophy, history, Gestalt psychology, law, political sciences and government. Firstly, she established her reputation as a political philosopher. In observing and working with different service organizations, she gained an understanding of group dynamics and the importance of teamwork, and she realized that there was a need to rethink prevailing views on authority, organization, leadership and conflict resolution. Later, Follett made the transition from being a political scientist to being a business philosopher. She suggested that in the past an artificial line had been drawn between managers and workers. In reality, there was no line, and all members of an organization who accepted responsibility for work at any level contributed. Follett’s ‘‘principle of integrative unity’’ involved finding solutions that satisfied all parties, without domination, surrender or compromise. Beyond viewing a business as a working unit, Follett felt that both labor and management should recognize their interrelationships with creditors, stockholders, customers, competitors, suppliers, and society in general. In other words, she voiced the ideas of stakeholder management and social responsibility. She extended her thinking on ‘‘constructive conflict’’ and achieving unity of effort. Follett held that integration, as a means for confronting contrasting interests, should be paramount in all business affairs. For Follett, conflict, to be constructive, required respect, understanding, talking it through, and creating win – win solutions. She believed that management should not exercise power over workers, nor should workers, through unions, exercise power over management. Jointly exercised power was ‘‘co-active’’, not coercive. Follett maintained that constructive conflict through integration could not be achieved when one or both sides to a conflict were attempting to dominate the other. In her view, in all human interactions, from interpersonal conflicts to international disputes, power-over had to be reduced, and obedience had to be shifted to the law of the situation. Follett proposed depersonalizing orders and shifting obedience to the ‘‘law of the situation, referring to the necessity of acting in accord with the unique requirements inherent in any situation’’. She observed, ‘‘different situations require different kinds of knowledge, and the man possessing the knowledge demanded by a certain situation tends to be in the best managed business, and other things being equal, to become the leader of the moment’’. In my opinion, she was pointing the contingency theory of management and situational leadership that were going to evolve later. Follett held that leadership should not be based on power, but instead on the reciprocal influence of leader on follower and follower on leader in the context of the prevailing situation. A leader’s primary task was defining the purpose of an organization; the leader ‘‘should make his co-workers see that it is not his purpose which is to be achieved, but a common purpose, born of the desires and the activities of the group”. In other words, the leader is responsible for the collective construction of a shared vision. This is pre-eminently the leadership quality – the ability to organize all the forces there are in an enterprise and make them serve a common purpose. Stated differently, she was underlying the importance of teamwork and participative management.

Similarly to Gilbreth and Follet, Edith Penrose was also very well educated and succesful. Dr. Penrose observed, ‘‘It is the heterogeneity, and not the homogeneity, of the productive services available or potentially available from its resources that give each firm its unique character’’. The key words were heterogeneity and resources, and Penrose was pushing economic thinking out of its ‘‘black box’’ by reintroducing the role of management: “A firm is more than an administrative unit; it is also a collection of productive resources the disposal of which between uses and over time is determined by administrative decision . . . management tries to make the best use of the resources available . . . and a firm is essentially a pool of resources the utilization of which is organized in an administrative framework”. Penrose noted that a firm’s resources were ‘‘inherited,’’ that is, left over from prior decisions about location, special-purpose equipment, the pool of managerial talent, and ‘‘indivisible’’ resources, all of which posed potential limits to decisions about the future direction of the firm. ‘‘Knowledge’’ was also inherited, as it resided in the experience, education, and intuition of the firm’s human resource. I think, Penrose was talking about tacit knowledge that was going to be defined in the future. She used the word entrepreneurs to describe persons within the firm who could provide changes in knowledge about products, markets, technology, administrative processes and opportunities. In other words, she was describing the internal entrepreneurs, or the so called intrapreneurs, who are so vital for organizational change and product and service development. Rather than being closed to change, the firm could grow by ‘‘changes in the knowledge possessed.’’ Penrose also stated: “There is no reason to assume that the new knowledge and services will be useful only in the firm’s existing products: on the contrary… they may provide a foundation which will give the firm an advantage in entirely new area”. In my opinion, she was predicting the possibilities for innovation that is very important today.

M.
More women are participating in every facet of life, especially worklife. There are many professional women today. Also, there are many successful women academicians, women CEOs and women entrepreneures, and their number will be increasing in the very near future.

In the list of World’s Best Business School Professors, 12 of the 50 best professors are women. Their names are: Jennifer Aaker (Stanford Graduate School of Business), Candida Brush (Babson College), Jennifer Chapman (Haas School of Business), Lynda Gratton (London Business School), Barbara Kahn (The Wharton School), Nancy F. Koehn (Harvard Business School), Sheena Iyengar (Columbia Business School), Reene Mauborgne (INSEAD), Christine Moorman (Fuqua School of Business), Dana Muir (Ross School of Management), Sharon Oster (Yale School of Management), and Laurie Weingart (Carnegie Mellon Tepper School of Business).

Here is the List of Women CEOs of the Fortune 500. Women currently hold only 4.6 percent of Fortune 500 CEO roles. There are 23 Women CEOs: Mary Barra (GM), Meg Whitman (HP), Virginia Rometty (IBM), Indira K. Nooyi (PepsiCo, Inc.), Marillyn Hewson (Lockheed Martin), Safra A. Catz (Oracle), Ellen J. Kullman (DuPont), Irene B. Rosenfeld (Mondelez International), Phebe Novakovic (General Dynamics), Carol Meypowitz (The TJX Companies, Inc.), Lynn Good (Duke Energy), Ursula M. Burns (Xerox Corporation), Deanna M. Mulligan (Guardian Life Insurance Company of America), Barbara Rentler (Ross Stores), Debra L. Reed (Sempra Energy), Kimberly Lubel (CST Brands), Sheri S. McCoy (Avon Products Inc.), Susan M. Cameron (Reynolds American), Denise M. Morrison (Campbell Soup), Kathleen Mazzarella (Graybar Electric), Ilene Gordon (Ingredion), Lisa Su (Advanced Micro Devices) and Jacqueline C. Hinman (CH2M Hill).

In Forbes’ 12th annual The World’d 100 Most Powerful Women, there are women who impact business, media, philanthropy, politics and more. The first three names in this list are: Angela Merkel (Chancellor, Germany), Hillary Clinton (Politics, USA) and Melinda Gates (Philanthropy/NGO, USA). All 100 women have the power to shape the world, but 18 stand out last year as entrepreneurs. Some of them are: Beth Comstock (CEO of GE Business Innovations who oversaw the founding of Hulu), Elizabeth Holmes (founder of blood testing company Theranos), Oprah Winfrey (Harpo Films production company), Beyoncé’s (19 North American shows), Lucy Peng (One of the founders of Alibaba, Laurene Powell Jobs (founder of Emerson Collective), Sofia Vergara (cofounder of Latin World Entertainment) and Adrianna Huffington (founder of Huffington Post).

E.
Especially important are female characteristics in leadership. Various research and books during the past 15 to 20 years have begun looking at the distinct behaviors and skills that women bring to the workplace as a different kind of leadership. Books like Sally Helgesen’s The Female Advantage (1990) and The Web of Inclusion (1995) started describing a different yet still successful style of leadership that women use. The way women are perceived in society influences how we view a female leader’s behaviors. Perceived traits of a female manager include being thoughtful, people focused, relationship focused, considerate, quiet, nice, helpful, pleasant, understanding, intuitive, emotional, creative, caring, empathetic, knowledgeable, cheerful, warm, empowering, patient, collaborative and participative. Female leaders tend to go for a win – win, have a sense of humor, want consensus and share the power. There are also negative perceptions, such as that women leaders are poor problem solvers, are not willing to move or relocate, are too family focused, and will periodically opt out of the system due to pregnancy, child or elder care. For a female leader’s communication skills, descriptors often include the following: acts spontaneous, asks questions, coaches, teaches and is assertive. All in all, the feminine leadership style is interpersonal, nurturing, flexible, and interconnected, meaning that it networks in all directions with others to achieve company’s goals.

The main reason for this is the emotional intelligence of women. In a very recent study: New Research Shows Women Are Better at Using Soft Skills Crucial for Effective Leadership and Superior Business Performance, dated March 4, 2016 and conducted by Korn Ferry Hay Group, it is concluded that “Women Outperform Men in 11 of 12 Key Emotional Intelligence Competencies”. The study aslo found that “women more effectively employ the emotional and social competencies correlated with effective leadership and management”.

N.
Nevertheless, future trends are unthinkable without women because they are half of the world’s population, they are equal to men and they possess diverse managerial and leadership competencies. More than ever before in human history, companies should focus on the women side of their businesses without excluding or ignoring women employees because the rapid changes in political, economic and social systems around the world requre women professionals and leaders who can deal with complex change, learn, unlearn, relearn, adapt and develop. The field of HRM pioneered by Lillian Gilbreth is going to undertake dramatic changes by dealing with gender equality, inclusion of women and guaranteeing more gender diversity.

Economist Edith Penrose used the word entrepreneurs to describe employees within the company who could provide changes in knowledge about products, markets, technology, administrative processes and oportunities. These intrapreneurs who can be women as well have a great amount of knowledge that has to be transformed into individual creativity which should be implemented for innovation. Nowadays, only the individual creativity of employees is not enough. There is a need for the collective crativity of the two genders. That is why Mary Follett’s ideas about group dynamics and the importance of teamwork are crucial. Leadership and conflict resolution within teams and organizations should be studied by using Follett’s principles, and all of these are so important for harnesing, nurturing and supporting the collective creativity of men and women within teams.

Governments and NGOs are not capable of solving the plenty of political, economis and social crises around the world, so there is the imperative for companies, business leaders, managers and employees to assist in solving these problems. Stated differently, companies should have the social responsibility to engage in philanthropic endeavors that will result in benefits for the whole humanity. As Follett stated, companies should recognize their interrelationships with the society in general and win – win solutions should be found. That is why feminine leadership style that is interpersonal, nurturing, flexible and interconnected, meaning that it networks in all directions must be adopted. I believe that women are going to make the economic and social transformations in the following 80 years of the 21st century.

 

Reference

Wren, Daniel A., Bedeian Arthur G. (2009). The Evolution of Management Thought. USA: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

 

(Posted also on LinkedIn Pulse)

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